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Whether you’re building a home library or deciding which books to keep after your kids have grown, these 30 must-have picture books are great for all ages!
We are pretty much past the picture book stage in our house. However, I cannot bring myself to get rid of them all.
So, I have boxed up my favorite ones to pull out to read to my grandson. At two years old, he’s now grabbing books of the shelf for me to read to him throughout the day.
Below is a list of my must-have picture books to read with little ones – many of these are in that box for “some day.”
Must Have Picture Books
Fill your book basket with a great collection of books about the sun. Most of these books can be found at your local library or used bookstore.
If you have a hard time finding them, you can order them through my Amazon affiliate links by clicking the images below.
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey – What happens when Sal and her mother meet a mother bear and her cub? This is such a sweet story, and it’s perfect for summer studies.
The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack – No one can deny the appeal of the book’s hero, Ping, the spirited little duck who lives on a boat on the Yangtze River. Ping’s misadventures one night while exploring the world around his home form the basis of this timeless classic.
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch – My mom bought this for my oldest when he was little. I have since bought it for my other two children and my grandson. Everyone needs to know how much their momma loves them – no matter what!
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. – A big happy frog, a plump purple cat, a handsome blue horse, and a soft yellow duck–all parade across the pages of this delightful book.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. – When all the letters of the alphabet race one another up the coconut tree, will there be enough room?
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey – Mrs. Mallard was sure that the pond in the Boston Public Gardens would be a perfect place for her and her eight ducklings to live. The problem was how to get them there through the busy streets of Boston.
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina – This tale of a peddler and a band of mischievous monkeys is filled with warmth, humor, and simplicity and also teaches children about problem and resolution.
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag – Once upon a time there was an old man and an old woman who were very lonely. They decided to get a cat, but when the old man went out searching, he found not one cat, but millions and billions and trillions of cats!
Corduroy by Don Freeman – This story of a small teddy bear waiting on a department store shelf for a child’s friendship has appealed to young readers generation after generation.
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel – This folktale explains why Chinese people no longer choose long names for their children.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats – The adventures of a little boy in the city on a very snowy day.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown – In a great green room, tucked away in bed, is a little bunny. “Goodnight room, goodnight moon.” And to all the familiar things in the softly lit room—to the picture of the three little bears sitting on chairs, to the clocks and his socks, to the mittens and the kittens, to everything one by one—the little bunny says goodnight.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – Max is the hero of this beloved children’s classic in which he makes mischief, sails away, tames the wild things, and returns home for supper.
Little Bear by Elsa Holmelund Minarik – Meet Little Bear, a friend to millions of children. And meet Mother Bear, who is there whenever Little Bear needs her.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff – If a hungry little mouse shows up on your doorstep, you might want to give him a cookie. And if you give him a cookie, he’ll ask for a glass of milk. He’ll want to look in a mirror to make sure he doesn’t have a milk mustache, and then he’ll ask for a pair of scissors to give himself a trim….
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans – Nothing frightens Madeline—not tigers, not even mice. With its endearing, courageous heroine, cheerful humor, and wonderful, whimsical drawings of Paris, the Madeline stories are true classics.
The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone – Generations will recall their first time reading along as lovable, furry old Grover begs the reader not to turn the page . . . for a monster is at the end of the book! But, of course, the monster is none other than Grover himself.
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney – “Guess how much I love you,” says Little Nutbrown Hare. Little Nutbrown Hare shows his daddy how much he loves him: as wide as he can reach and as far as he can hop. But Big Nutbrown Hare, who can reach farther and hop higher, loves him back just as much.
The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey – The story of a curious puppy, who digs holes under fences and who has to go to bed without any strawberry shortcake, has delighted families for generations.
Danny the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff – Danny loves dinosaurs! When he sees one at the museum and says, “It would be nice to play with a dinosaur,” a voice answers, “And I think it would be nice to play with you.” So begins Danny and the Dinosaur’s wonderful adventures together.
Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scary – Featuring everything from an airport to a grocery store, this fun-filled book has hundreds of objects clearly labeled so that little readers can expand their vocabularies.
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown – A little bunny keeps running away from his mother in this imaginary game of hide-and-seek. Children will be profoundly comforted by this lovingly steadfast mother who finds her child every time.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – One sunny Sunday, the caterpillar was hatched out of a tiny egg. He was very hungry. On Monday, he ate through one apple; on Tuesday, he ate through three plums – and still he was hungry. When full at last, he made a cocoon around himself and went to sleep, to wake up a few weeks later wonderfully transformed into a butterfly!
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst – Alexander knew it was going to be a terrible day when he woke up with gum in this hair.
And it got worse…
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter – The Tale of Peter Rabbit is the tale of a mischievous rabbit and his nerve-wracking encounter with Mr. McGregor.
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper – The story of a train filled with toys and gifts for little boys and girls that breaks down before reaching the children. After asking several passing trains for help over the hill, a little blue train agrees to help the stranded toys. Even though she is small, the blue train tries her best to bring the toys to the children on the other side of the hill.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams – A toy velveteen rabbit longs to be loved, and he begins to experience this when a boy adopts him as his favorite toy.
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton – A sturdy, well tended little house standing on a hill in the countryside watches the days, nights, and seasons come and go as the town around her grows and develops before her.
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss – “Do you like green eggs and ham?” asks Sam-I-am in this Beginner Book by Dr. Seuss. In a house or with a mouse? In a boat or with a goat? On a train or in a tree? Sam keeps asking persistently.
Are You My Mother? by P. D. Eastman – When a mother bird’s egg starts to jump, she hurries off to make sure she has something for her little one to eat. But as soon as she’s gone, out pops the baby bird. He immediately sets off to find his mother, but not knowing what she looks like makes it a challenge.
Is your favorite picture book on this list? What book would you add?