Thursday, February 28, 2008

Building the Well-Read Child's Library: 10 Classic Picture Books

Today, I'm presenting my second installment of "Building The Well-Read Child's Library."

I absolutely love reading new books--new stories, new characters to fall in love with, new illustrationsm, but there's nothing like pulling out a story that I read when I was a child and reading it to my daughter. It brings back so many memories, and even though she can't quite understand them now, I am eager for the day when she will be able to. Some books are simply magical, can withstand the test of time, and can be enjoyed by many different generations.

Here are ten classic picture books that you may have read when you were young and that you will enjoy sharing with your child all over again.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
This story, first published in 1939, introduced us to a charming little character from France who appeared in many many more stories afterwards. While many say it's better suited for girls, I think little boys will also like the stories rhymes.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
This classic story of the mischevious little bunny who gets into a heap of trouble in Mr. McGregor's garden is sure to be a hit with children. I remember associating Peter with my own little brother who always seemed to get into trouble and somehow manage to wiggle his way out of it.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
I admit that I didn't read this book until I was an adult, but once I did, I knew it was something I would have loved when I was little. Little Max gets sent to bed without supper, but fortunately for him, a forest full of wild things is waiting for him. It celebrates a child's imagination and will be enjoyed by girls and boys alike.

The Story of Babar by Jean De Brunhoff
A classic tale of a little elephant who loses his mother, goes into the city, and becomes the talk of the town. I loved Babar and all of Jean De Brunhoff's funny illustrations.

The Complete Adventures of Curious George by H.A. Rey 60 years ago, children were introduced to this lovable monkey and the Man in the Yellow Hat. This first book sparked the creation of numerous books that continue to make the little monkey a familiar character in households today.

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
A nice British family, the Browns, meet a nice bear at a Paddington station with a sign around his neck that says, "Please look after this bear." So begins the story of a bear whose humor and whimsy have won the hearts of children for decades. When I was a child, I was drawn to Paddington Bear's charm.

Corduroy by Don Freeman
Another story featuring a bear as a character, Corduroy, a toy bear, comes alive and goes on a fun adventure in a department store at night when everyone has left. When I was a child, I used to imagine what it would be like to have the same experience as Corduroy and made up my own little stories in my head.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
When technology like gasoline and diesel threaten the livelihood of Mike and his steam shovel, Mary Anne, they travel to the tiny town of Popperville to find work. This is one of those books that boys who love machines will really enjoy, but girls will also be interested in the story.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Another book that celebrates a child's imagination, Harold goes for a walk in the moonlight with a big purple crayon in his hand. He uses the crayon multiple times along the adventure to help him out and then to get him back home. Kids who love to draw and who like a little bit of magic will love this book.

Stone Soup by Ann McGovern
Ann McGovern first retold this Chinese folktale in 1968. The story of a hungry young man who tricks an old woman who initially refuses him food into making a hearty soup. The first ingredient? Stones of course.

These picture books were just a few of my favorites when I was a child, and I look forward to sharing them with my daughter. What were some of your favorites?


  1. Curious George and Where the Wild Things Are were my favorites as a child, and my kids love them equally! The first book I "read" as a child I had memorized because I loved it so much. It was a Weekly Reader book called Double Trouble that I can't find anymore.

  2. My childhood favorite books were Mary had a Little Lamb, Lady & the Tramp, and Who Killed Cock Robbin. Of course my son enjoys all the new stories available now but I find it's lots of fun for both of us to go back to the oldies but goodies!