How serendipitous that I discovered the August 10 for 10 Picture Books Blogging event taking place today in time to participate (I love Twitter!).  Cathy at Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning are both teachers and book lovers (great combination), and set up the event as a way for educators to share the books they would be lost without in their classrooms.  I am not a teacher officially, but I am a mother, and all mothers are teachers too.  Oh, and there’s the fact that I’m writing picture books… Therefore, I could not resist participating.  I focused my list on books my kids and I are enjoying right now rather than an “all-time” list.  I also chose books that I think appeal equally to both boys and girls.  Be sure to go to either Cathy or Mandy’s blogs to see the lists of everyone participating!

  1. The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds — You always know you’ve got a winner when you’re tearing up at the end of a book.  Young children are so fixated on getting things “right” and comparing themselves to others.  The Dot does a beautiful job of showing how everyone is unique and everyone must first find a place to begin, which is true for art as the focus of this book, but for life also.  Love, LOVE this book.
  2. Show Way, by Jacqueline Woodson — I already spent an entire post waxing poetic about Jackie and Show Way after the SCBWI Conference in January.  Therefore, I will not belabor the point here except to say that EVERYONE should have this book in his/her collection.  Is that a strong enough recommendation?
  3. The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School, by Laurie Halse Anderson — This book takes provides a welcome twist to the theme of school anxiety.  Zoe is a girl with out-of-control hair and a teacher that wants an in-control classroom.  It’s satisfying to see how Zoe and her teacher reach a truce, and Ard Hoyd’s illustrations give Zoe and her hair an epic dimension.
  4. Monkey with a Tool Belt, by Chris Monroe — Unique character, unique predicament, and unique solution combined with downright hilarity in both the writing and the illustrations make this a book both boys and girls love.  I bought it because it made me laugh out loud in the store.  I’m glad my kids like it as much as I do.  It also makes use of both prose and rhyme, which makes it fun to read aloud.
  5. Harry and Horsie, by Katie Van Camp — With the exception of the books in this list, my son is a die-hard non-fiction guy.  The straight-up kind with no story arc whatsover.  The more detailed on things like truck parts, volcanoes, space, etc. the better.  That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised to watch him fall in love with this book.  It’s just a magical, imaginative take on friendship.  My daughter loves it just as much as my son.  The illustrations are Lichtenstein-esque with a comic book feel to them that work perfectly with the text.
  6. Peaceful Piggy Meditation, by Kerry Lee MacLean — Full disclosure here: Kerry is a local author and I’ve met and worked with her personally.  That said, I love her books and started buying them before I met her.  This book has given me an indispensable way of teaching my children how to calm themselves down.  I consistently say to them, “Find your Peaceful Piggy,” and they automatically begin taking deep breaths or start communicating with me about why they can’t at that particular moment.  The illustrations are whimsical and fun, but best of all, the book really does teach kids the benefits of connecting with their “inner” selves.
  7. Kat Kong/Dogzilla, by Dav Pilkey — These books are just plain silly, and include lots of puns and pop culture references that adults will appreciate.  Obviously they are takeoffs on the King Kong/Godzilla legends.  Both of my kids adore these books even though they are not familiar with the original stories.  I guess these are the type of books that are often described as for boys, but after being introduced to Pilkey’s work at school, my daughter loves EVERYTHING by him, including the Dumb Bunnies and Ricky Ricotta series.  So it was she who discovered them for us, and they’ve probably done more to encourage her to read than any other books this summer.
  8. The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munro — Both boys and girls love how the dragon gets tricked and how the concept of what makes a princess a princess gets turned on its head.  A contemporary take on a classic theme, this story is modern and timeless at the same time.  Hard to go wrong with that!
  9. The Lorax, by Dr Seuss — I know, I know.  This book is on everyone’s list, so it’s a bit of a cop out.  But since we rarely go two weeks without reading this book at least once, I felt I had to include it.  This is surely the best book on the subject of sustainability and stewardship and also the best example of how to write a story with an strong theme without moralizing.
  10. Verdi, by Janell Cannon — I know Stellaluna is considered Cannon’s standout title, but around here, we love Verdi – the snake who is anxious and upset about growing up.  Luckily, he finds a way to be himself even as he changes in ways he can’t control.  Lots of great scientific back matter included about pythons for the non-fiction buffs in your lives.

Well, between writing this post, participating in WriteOnCon whenever I get a free moment, taking care of the kids and the dog, all while searching for lost library books, I think it’s time for me to go (and return said library books)…

Categories: Authors, Books, Children's Books · Tags: , , ,



  1. Love, love the Kat Kong/Dogzilla books! My son is 16, and we were all over these when he was young. He liked silly humor and nonsense stuff, so it was right up his alley. Also agree on the Lorax, and Verdi is wonderful.

  2. I agree a mom is a teacher. One of the most important teachers in our lives. I enjoyed reading your list and look forward to adding more great titles to my library.

  3. I haven’t heard of Verdi before, sounds delightful. I’ll have to look for it next time at at the library.

  4. I love The Paperbag Princess too. But I don’t know many of the other titles. Perhaps we haven’t got them in Australia yet. Must keep an eye out for them!

    • Hey thanks for stopping by! I’ve heard lovely things about your magazine from the Aussie writers I’ve met on Twitter.

      I imagine most of the titles I mentioned are US-based. How I wish that books were more mobile – meaning that your access to certain titles wasn’t limited to the country they were published in. I know some cross international boundaries, but not nearly enough. Maybe that’s one thing that ebooks will help accomplish.

  5. I must read The Dot! Now that my sons are older, I don’t dig in to picture books as much as we used to. Your list sounds amazing.

    By the way, love the vacation photo in your previous post. Amazing.

    Thanks for visiting my blog, and for commenting on this crazy ride we’re all on!

    • Julie,

      I know what you mean. My daughter is moving more and more to chapter books these days, and while I’m thrilled, I’m also a little in mourning.

      My son is only 4, but he likes very different books than I like. So I guess I’m going to have to spend a lot of time in the library!

  6. This is great. My daughter (3) reads all the time. I’ll have to check these out. And by the way, you are completely right about moms being teachers. I am a former teacher so maybe I take that to the next level, but all moms are definitely teachers.

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