When I found out that I am going to be an aunt, my first thoughts were about reading to the baby. What books will I read? What are the best picture books? Which books were my favourites as a child? What new picture books are really good?
I have taken entire courses in University about the importance of reading good quality literature to children. The research always says to start reading from the time they are born (or sooner!). When I go to a bookstore and see the hundreds of picture books available, I get so excited! There are so many amazing books to choose from. But I also warn that there are many poor quality books that children and parents won’t enjoy such as books that only list colours or animals. I don’t believe in books that are made to “teach” children. Research shows that books with a narrative element are best. If a book is engaging, children will learn. Look for books that have a story, interesting and complex pictures and is a book that you yourself enjoy talking to your child about. But when in doubt, READ!
Here I have compiled a list of my favourite picture books. I believe in reading to all children no matter how young or old. These books are best read from newborn to preschool age but I would read them to any child (or adult!).
Note: they are in no particular order.
- Chester by Melanie Watt
I think part of the reason I love this book is that it is about a fat cat just like my childhood pet. I also think the story is cute with Chester changing the book. This is a picture book geared toward slightly older children (i.e. preschoolers) as the two versions of the story may be hard to follow for younger children.
This series are quite possibly my favourite new picture books. I wish they had been around when I was a child. The words are very simple but the story requires children to really look at the pictures to understand the characters true intents. I always imagine using these books to teach about body language and inferences in school.
- The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
Another newer picture book I would have loved as a child. About a box of crayons writing letters to their boy complaining about how he is using (or not using) them. I like that it encourages creativity and drawing/colouring.
- Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens
This was a favourtie book of mine when I was little. It is about a lazy bear who makes a deal with a family of rabbit to do his farming for him but the rabbits outsmart him and rip him off every year. Cute pictures, and learn about vegetable growing in a fun story.
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault
This is a quick read that is fun over and over again. The rhyme makes it engaging and it is a better way of talking about letters than a boring old alphabet book.
- Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Another childhood favourite. This is the book that I chose for a paper on the best book for parents to read to their baby. It is a simple rhyming story that invites you to spy different things happening in the pictures. The pictures are beautiful and complex to allow lots for parents and children to talk about while reading. Other good picks from these authors are: the Jolly Postman series and “Peek-a-Boo”.
- A Porcupine in a Pine Tree by Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmerman
A really cute and Canadian (!) version of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Nice illustrations to go with the funny words chosen to replace the song.
- The Mog series by Judith Kerr
A super cute picture book series about Mog the cat. She is a lovable cat who is always getting into trouble. The latest Mog book I read was “Mog and the Vet” which is humorous and adorable. I just can’t get enough of Mog.
- Angus and the Ducks by Marjorie Flack
The Angus series is much older than the rest of the books I chose, written in 1930. Yet it stands up to time and is sure to be a hit with animal lovers. Similar to Mog the cat, Angus is an adventurous but trouble making dog.
- Those Terrible Toy Breakers by David McPhail
A highly underrated little book. This was a book that I made my mom read over and over as a child. It looks like it may be out of print now but can still be found on used book sites. “Those Terrible Toy Breakers” is a whimsical story about a boy who sets out to catch the animals he believes have been breaking his toys at night.
P.S. Don’t laugh at my attempt at making my own featured image lol