When I first started this blog, I shared my top 5 favorite classic children’s picture books. I’ve spent some time since then thinking about their contemporary alternatives. It was tough to narrow them down, but hopefully a few will be new to you…
What Happens on Wednesdays by Emily Jenkins. When Lucy was two and three years old, we read this book almost every night. Our readings are less frequent now, but no less enjoyable. Jenkins takes us through a typical Wednesday in a young girl’s life in the city. The routine of their day is like so many of our day-to-day rituals, making this book feel like an old friend.
Shoe Baby by Joyce Dunbar. This quirky book is so entertaining to read aloud, I choose it again and again. Polly Dunbar’s illustrations are larger than life, full of joyful drama and color. The story is silly and fantastical, but that’s what makes it so much fun. Dunbar’s rhythm is melodic: And he dreamed a bright dream of a pink cockatoo, saying over and over “toodle-oo, toodle-oo”. I dare you not to have fun reading this one.
The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child. Obviously, the story of the Princess and the Pea has been around for a long time, but Child’s modern spin is definitely my favorite. This princess is independent, strong and quirky. Child’s interjections throughout the story are witty and smart, some of them aimed at the parents without excluding the children. And her trademark collage-style illustrations, blended with Polly Borland’s photos, lend the story a new layer. Definitely a modern fairy tale.
The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman. I love a good rhyming book when it’s thoughtfully done like this one. Mrs. Peters gives birth to seven children over time, each with their own picky eating habits. As she exhausts herself trying to please each one, the story gets sillier and sillier, enhanced by the vintage-style illustrations. The family’s ultimate compromise will leave you smiling.
How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers. The story here is simple and sweet—a young boy tries to catch a star to keep for himself—but the illustrations are what I love. Rich and vibrant in color and depth, and yet still spare, they will leave you wanting more.
What are some of your favorite contemporary picture books?
(All images via Amazon)
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I admit it, I am a chronic book buyer! I love buying beautiful picture books for my kids. As the daughter of a librarian, you’d think I’d use the library more, but I just love the smell and crisp feel of new books. I love that my kids have favorites that we read over and over again. And I certainly have my favorites too. As time goes on, I’d like to share some of those favorites with you. To start, here are some of my favorite classics:
One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey. I like this sequel even better than the original, Blueberries for Sal. This installment finds an older Sal about to lose her first tooth. McCloskey’s vivid illustrations take us on an outing with Sal, her little sister, and their father as she loses that tooth and gains a new perspective. It’s a simple, old-fashioned story, but Lucy and I gravitate toward it time and time again.
The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper. This is easily Finn’s favorite book. He even knows the author’s name and he likes to pretend that all of his books are written by Watty Piper! I like the lilting prose (“red-cheeked apples and bottles of creamy milk for their breakfasts”) and sounding out the well-known “I think I can, I think I can…” refrain. I find myself rooting for that little blue engine every time.
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown. My favorite of Brown’s stories, I like it even more than Goodnight Moon. As soon as I begin reading it, the kids start rubbing their eyes. It just has that calming effect that takes over immediately. By the time the illustrations at the end are bathed in night, my eyelids are drooping just like the kids’.
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans. This is that book I couldn’t wait to read to my daughter from the time she was in the womb! And it hasn’t disappointed. Madeline is an enduring character who doesn’t need to be swathed in pink or dressed up like a princess to be enchanting. Lucy is drawn to her and Finn loves her too! Of all the Madeline books, the original is still our favorite.
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. This is my favorite of Burton’s stellar collection. My kids love seeing the change of seasons in her illustrations, and I love her fluid prose. She turns an inanimate object into a thinking, feeling character and you feel right along with that little house.
What are some of your favorite children’s classics?
(Images via Amazon)
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