10 Children's Picture Books You Must Read, Even If You Don't Have Children

My childhood is filled with memories of books. Being read to, reading on my own, and by the time I was nine or ten reading under the covers with a flashlight so I wouldn't get into trouble for staying up late. To nurture a love of books to last we need to introduce great books at every stage of reading development. Not just fun books, and not just books that teach us lessons. We need both, and if we can combine the two that is even better. Here are ten picture books that I think ever child, and adult, needs to read at least once.


Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendack is a classic favorite. Max climbs into his wolf suit and gets himself into trouble. After he is sent to his room a jungle grows up around him and he enters the world were the wild things roam. The monster are huge and mismatched, but their actions and big eyes keep them from being truly frightening for children. The book speaks to both children and adults and helps each understand the other a bit better.

Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola is a retelling of an Italian folktale. Strega Nona is a grandmother witch with a magic pasta pot. As expected someone=e tries to use the pot when Strega Nona is not there, and it goes hysterically wrong. Similar to The sorcerer's apprentice in the lesson of not messing around with things you do not fully understand, do not have permission to handle or simply try to take shortcuts for selfish reasons. 

Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst show us that everyone has bad days, and helps us laugh and put ours into perspective. Poor Alexander is having a rough day. Gum in his hair, lunch without dessert, a trip to the dentist and worst of all having to watch kissing on television. Its all enough to make anyone want to more to Australia, especially young Alexander.

Harold And The Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson is a great book for showing adults and children just how far our imaginations can take up=s if we let it. Harold and his crayon creates his own path, a landscape, and world to explore. We see the power of art and creativity all stemming from one boy's imagination. What better way to encourage art, writing, any creative process than to remind yourself and introduce your child to the wonders that we can each create.


Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter is a cautionary tale about listening to your mother, but is still not stale after all these years. Directly disobeying orders to stay out of the garden Peter can not help himself, and gets himself in quite the mess because of it. The realism and truth of this book is much better, in my opinion, then some of the more white washed tales given to our children today.





The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a fantastic tale of unconditional love. Simple illustrations are the perfect mirror to the story. A tree loves a boy who befriends him and proceeds to give the boy literally everything of itself over the years as the boy grows up and his needs change. The tree requires nothing other than knowing that it is helping, and is happy to finally give the boy grown into an old man a place to sit when that is all it has left to give.

Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss is a tale of nurturing and love of all life, no matter how insignificant it might seem. Dear Horton hears a cry for help from a speak of dust and does everything in his power to help whoever made that cry because "a person's a person, no matter how small".


The True Story of Three Little Pigs by Jon Sciesz tells the classic fairy tale from a different point of view. The wolf claims to have simply been looking for some sugar to make his granny a cake. Is he really to blame if his sneezes could blow down a house? Would it have been better if he had just let food go to waste? A great book to encourage everyone to think about the other side of every story. 

The Monster At The End Of This Book by Jon Stone is a strong favorite in my house. Poor Grover is terrified of seeing the monster at the end of the book, because he doesn't know quite what to expect. He tries everything he can to stop the reader from turning pages, but fails. Feeling foolish he discovers that he is the monster at the end of the book and there was nothing to fear.
No, David! by David Shannon follows the mischievous adventures of David. We see young David cause all kinds of trouble, breaking things, flooding the bathroom, coloring on the walls as Mom desperately pleads with find from off the page. However at the end of the day we see him assured that no matter what he is loved.

There are so many great children's books out there, these are just ten of my favorite picture books. For more suggestions pay a visit to your local library and spend some time in the children's room or talking to the children's librarian. You will be glad you did.
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