This is a list of the twenty best picture books of all time. I am not including series as I will do a separate post for those. Although Dr. Seuss has written enough to merit his own post at another date, he just has too many great books. Of course this is subjective and based on my personal tastes and memories although I did research several other lists. If you have never read any of these take the time to check them out, they all hold up.
20. The Hallo-Wiener
Dav Pilkey, the author and illustrator of the Dumb Bunnies series and my all time favorite series Captain Underpants also created this Halloween classic. A great story about being different. A Rudolph for October.
19. Lyle, Lyle the Crocodile
I need to find this book, because it has been a while. The illustrations are fun and simplistic and the setting of an anthropomorphic animal in a human setting always makes for a good children's book.
18. The Grouchy Ladybug
I definitely needed slot for Eric Carle. This one is just as good as his other classics The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?. This a good fable for young children that comes across as more fun than heavy handed. It shows that grouchiness does not lead to anything good.
17. Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type
This is a more recent selection that I remember my sister loving and reading to my uncle who is a farmer. A lot of clever parental bonuses while still being amusing to young readers.
16. The Monster at the End of This Book
The only adaptation from another medium on this list. The gimmick of this book is so simple and clever. Even after you realize the end you are still won over by its considerable fun and charm.
15. Why Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears
A great adaptation of an African folk tale with unique art work that is truly beautiful. A good way to introduce the topic of fables to children and enjoyable for anyone who has had a mosquito buzz in their ear.
14. Goodnight Moon
This is the definitive bedtime story for many. Not too exciting to keep kids awake, sweet enough for kids to look forward to hearing and familiar enough for parents to want to read it.
13. Velveteen Rabbit
Kids need sad stories just like they need fun ones. Well told dramas like these can help children learn to deal with difficult issues. Also it has other levels for adults to relate to their children or their own grown up lives.
12. Caps for Sale
A fun story about dealing with being made fun of. This is my personal favorite picture book featuring monkeys that are not curious and I love the distinctive illustrations.
David Weisner has illustrated other beautiful books including Flotsam and Three Little Pigs, but this silent story is my favorite of his. The pictures all look realistic but have such a sense of fantasy and grandeur. Just absolutely gorgeous.
10. True Story of the Three Little Pigs
Writer Jon Scieszka and artist Lane Smith had a big impact on my childhood as they created The Time Warp Trio series and the extremely memorable and durable anthology Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (Smith also wrote and drew the lesser known Happy Hockey Family). But this is their masterpiece. I swear that every year in school, up until high school used this book as a lesson in creative writing. The deconstruction of a classic tale is pitch perfect and the best picture book adaptation of the story (second best is The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig).
9. Rainbow Fish
Probably the best lesson in sharing that I have ever seen. It is not the generic lesson that most children receive as there are real emotions at play. It portrays realistically how greediness leads to loneliness and sharing leads to happiness. Also the holographic scales make the book stand out and exciting.
8. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
A great introduction to the concept of consequences and cause and effect. Just a really fun story told in a fun pattern. There are several sequel books, but this is still the best love.
7. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
I am 22 and I could still recite this book almost word for word. A book for early readers, but the memories of it and the fun words and illustrations make it loved by all ages.
6. Harold and the Purple Crayon
It is interesting looking at these books as an analytical adult, because I have a very perspective than when I was first introduced to them. I am fascinated by this story because it is so simple and tells the story of how a child creates a world with one device. I, like many adults am reliant on so many things that it is easy to forget how powerful your imagination can be.
I am holding off on Christmas books, because I will make a list of them this winter which is why Eric Van Allsburg's other masterpiece Polar Express is not on this list. The photo realistic artwork works for the best in this fantasy adventure. This one always gets my imagination going and its follow-up Zathura is in the same vein.
This was one of my favorites growing up, my mom read it to me a lot. Stories about stuffed animals are great because stuffed animals are very real to children. This one gets the heart strings and Corduroy is such a great, likable character.
3. Where the Wild Things Are
This is the book that everybody loves. It is dark and intriguing. I was not a fan of the Spike Jonze movie, which Maurice Sendak loved and supports. Part of my problem with the movie was that it had a very specific take on the story when the book is very ambiguous. It is one of those books that can give you so many different experiences. Sometimes I just find it fun, other times I find it tragic and other times I am just in awe of the artwork. It is difficult to pinpoint but it is just a perfectly told story that everyone has some connection to.
2. The Giving Tree
One of those enjoyable stories that you hear a lot as a kid but don't really have an appreciation for until you grow up. This is one that I understand more and more the older I get. It is a beautiful, accurate depictions of relationships. Just a book that is based on emotion and honesty, the kind that adults and children can enjoy together even though they may get different things from it.
1. The Little Engine That Could
This is my all time favorite book. So much heart, so much imagination. I never get tired of it and I will take any chance to read it to a child. It is the story of The Good Samaritan but with toys and trains. Great message of perseverance and generosity. Just one that I have a deep connection with.