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Picture Books Every Child Should Have

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

childrens books on shelfContributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman

There are just some books everyone should read. And when it comes to picture books, there are just some books where the artistry alone makes them one of the picture books every child should have. These are books where the magic goes far beyond simply illustrating a story. Instead, each page illuminate the tale.

These are books that are very different, from simple tale of a day winding down to an inspiring story of how we are all connected. But the pictures. Oh, the pictures! Check out these books for your kids or as a baby gift sure to be loved for years to come.

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10. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak


Maurice Sendak took scary kids’ picture books to a whole new level, but somehow he made it work without keeping little ones up at night with monsters under the bed. His illustrations are part whimsical and part the stuff nightmares are made of — and kids love it, from the first page to the happy ending. This is a book that will be passed down to the next generation, so buy it in hardcover.

9. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Goodnight Moon

When you buy your child their very first bookshelf, make sure this 1947 classic is on it. The story is simple. A nanny (or grandmother, perhaps) waiting for a child to drift off to sleep as each element of the nursery and the night sky is wished goodnight. The illustrations are simple, too. But in their very simplicity lies their beauty. These are uncluttered pictures where even a small child can readily pick out the familiar objects.

Buy Goodnight Moon as a board book to start, and read it to baby in the rocking chair each night. I promise it will become a favorite ritual.

8. Whoever You Are by Mem Fox

Whoever You Are

The images are beautiful. Even little children will be captivated by the colors in the folk-art style images on these pages. And the words are just as perfect. Before you grab this book for the first time, you might want to make sure you have a tissue or two handy. It’s not that it’s sad. It’s simply that Mem Fox has captured a vision of the world that is exceptionally beautiful and hopeful. The tears of joy will be for a world you’ll hope your child will someday enjoy.

7. Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger


Like Goodnight Moon, this is a classic bedtime book. But in place of the simple drawings, Grandfather Twilight will enchant little ones and parents alike with its story of the nightly tasks as the day gives way to the magic of night time. The illustrations are so beautiful you may want to buy a second copy to take apart and frame them as nursery decor. A nighty reading, those gentle images and gentle children’s room lighting might be all you’ll need for your toddlers and preschoolers to sleep contentedly through the night.

6. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

if you give a mouse a cookie

I don’t think there’s a child or parent who can resist this delightful romp through the “what-if’s” of giving an unexpected house guest a treat. And it’s not only a fun read, it’s a great way to inspire kids to think about their own “what’s next” silliness. Bake a batch of cookies with your child, then sit down with hot cookies, cold milk and this book. Before you know it, memories are being made.

5. The Mitten by Jan Brett

The mitten

It starts as a simple dropped mitten. But what happens next has enchanted kids for for years. The beautiful images and sweet story tell a tale of cooperation and a safe warm place where there is always room for one more. Cuddle in front of a warm fire on a snowy night and read this one out loud. The whole family will love it.

4. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

The cat in the hat

It just wouldn’t be a complete list of picture books every child should have on their bookshelf if it didn’t include at least one Dr. Seuss book. And The Cat in the Hat is my very favorite among all of his books. Kids love the silly, made-up words and slightly strange cartoon drawings. Moms and dads love sharing a book they loved as a child.

3. My Bible Quiet Book

picture books for children bible

Kids love books that step outside of the way things usually work, so it’s no wonder that a Bible picture book is a favorite. The bold illustrations appeal to kids and parents alike, and the story’s lessons about cooperation and mutual responsibility teach without being preachy.

2. On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

On the night you were born

If there was ever a book that belongs on every child’s bookshelf, this is it. On the Night You Were Born tells a beautiful tale of the world’s wonder at the same time a new baby arrives. Tuck a copy of this book into every new baby gift you give — mom will love it now, and their little one will love it reading after reading.

1. A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

A chair for my mother

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A lot of parents worry about their kids developing a “me first” attitude. Books are a great way to head off that issue, and this book is one of the very best. In A Chair for my Mother, the child narrator tells of a jar filled with coins, saved for weeks and months until finally her mother can buy a big soft chair to relax in after work. The colorful illustrations tell the story almost as well as the words in a tale of need, caring and hard work finally rewarded. The perfect antidote to the “You need a NEW cell phone NOW” message from popular media.


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