Jen, Pam and I are getting things started on Booklights by sharing our ten favorite picture books with you.
This was an enormous challenge for me because there are so many books I love. After a lot of agonizing, I managed to narrow it down to twenty. Here are ten of my favorites, with part two (favorite books to read aloud) coming soon. It was impossible for me to rank them, so I put the books in alphabetical order by author.
Some of these books are from childhood and others were published very recently. Every time I pick any of these books up, I know I'm holding a friend in my hand.
A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.
This book was just published in 2008, but it feels and looks like a classic to me. Bear and Mouse are such delightful characters that they make me want to keep turning the page to find out what happens next (even if I already know). The beautiful illustrations coupled with the wonderful story makes this book a true stand out.
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton.
I could never hear this book enough when I was a kid. I always feel like I'm part of the crowd in Popperville cheering Mike and Mary Ann to finish the cellar before it gets dark. See this post to discover a lesser known fact about this classic.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
I've read this book hundreds of times and never get tired of it. The words and illustrations flow together just right. And happy birthday to the Hungry Caterpillar, which just turned 40 years old, but doesn't look a day older than when I first read it.
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordecai Gerstein.
This book tells the story of Philippe Petit's daring tightrope walk between the two towers of the World Trade Center. Gerstein sums up Pettit's incredible feat succinctly with illustrations that are simultaneously realistic and fanciful. A beautiful book about the power of memory.
What Do You Say, Dear? By Sesyle Joslin, illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
I think this is one of the best and simplest book about etiquette for any age. I love the delightful, witty humor by Sesyle Joslin and the perfect drawings by Maurice Sendak make this book wonderfully absurd and extremely funny. And kids may even learn a thing or two about good manners.
The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway.
How did the villagers of Itching Down handle the four million wasp that flew into town? By building a huge sandwich to trap the wasps, of course. This funny tall tale with its humorous rhyming text and pictures is silly and memorable.
Zen Shorts by Jon Muth.
Jon Muth's vivid watercolor paintings turn this quiet book into something quite extraordinary. The modern day story intertwines itself wonderfully with the classic folk tales. And of course, I love Stillwater the panda.
Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann.
The 1996 Caldecott Medal winner has a special place in my heart. This funny, creative and buoyantly drawn book is a joy to read every time. It has a great message about the importance of sticking by your friend, whether human or canine. It always makes me laugh and makes me wish I had Gloria for a buddy.
Cars and Trucks and Things that Go by Richard Scarry.
This classic, oversized book grows along with a child. It's perfect for showing pictures to a baby, words to a toddler, or reading the story of the pig family to a preschooler. And of course, anyone at any age, can look for Goldbug. Whichever way you read it, it's always fun.
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham.
When I was little, I used to look forward to going to the doctor's office, because my pediatrician had a copy of Harry the Dirty Dog in his waiting room. I own my own copy now and still never get tired of this timeless classic about a dog who hates to take baths.
What are your favorite picture books? What are your children's favorites?
I'm a children's librarian in Arlington, Virginia and I love what I do. Children's books have always been my main interest and it's fantastic to be in a job where I get to recommend books and work with children every day. I get to help kids find books about Curious George, dinosaurs, science projects and every other subject you can think of.
I do storytimes for babies, for preschoolers, for elementary school kids, and every age in between. I even do a weekly storytime in American Sign Language. I love to share wonderful books, fun music and puppets during storytime and watch children's eyes light up as they hear a new book for the first time.
It's always a thrill when I can help someone find the title of a book they've been searching for or when I can introduce new books to children who think they have read everything. And I learn so much from the kids I work with, whether it's a 2 1/2 year old who's an expert on the planets, a ten year old who is researching the expected life cycle of a toucan, or a high school student who needs information on Apollo 16.
I write a blog called Wizards Wireless, about children's books, comic strips and Harry Potter (which is one of my very favorite book series). I read and discuss children's books voraciously, am active in the American Library Association, and the Kidlitosphere (the organization of children's literature bloggers). My favorite part of every day is when I sit down with my son and read books to him at bedtime.
I'm looking forward to talking about some of my favorite topics here on Booklights: helping children love books and learn to read, wonderful picture books, and recommendations of books to share with babies, toddlers and preschoolers. I'm also going to be posting about libraries and how to use them effectively. I welcome your comments, feedback and opinions and I always love to hear about books you and your children enjoy.