For my needs I recently created - Best Popular Picture Books on Goodreads with pretty limited criteria - that is 5000 ratings and shelved at least 500 times as "picture book". Sure it won't be as long as this list - and if people ever start voting on it, I'll probably end up doing a lot of deletion. But it will always be a good starting place for picture books.
This is the delightful tale of a young boy and his struggle with believing in Santa Claus. When he goes to bed on Christmas Eve, he is sure there is no such thing as Santa. Much to his surprise, a train pulls up in front of his house to take him to the North Pole. Along with other children, he experiences the reality of Santa and Christmas, and is brought to the obvious conclusion that he was wrong. Adventurous, heartwarming, and fun to read alone or to share, this is one of those childrens books that is sure to be treasured for many years.
This is the delightful tale of a young boy and his struggle with believing in Santa Claus. When he goes to bed on Christmas Eve, he is sure there is no such thing as Santa. Much to his surprise, a train pulls up in front of his house to take him to the North Pole. Along with other children, he experiences the reality of Santa and Christmas, and is brought to the obvious conclusion that he was wrong. Adventurous, heartwarming, and fun to read alone or to share, this is one of those childrens books that is sure to be treasured for many years.
Each page of Breathe and Be offers a miniature poem to tune the mind to the pitch of that which is nourishing and beautiful. “There’s a quiet place in my head like an egg hidden in a nest.” The clever and delicate drawings are not to be rushed through. My eight-year-old daughter declared, “Wow, this is my favorite one.” Breathe and Be is, to put it simply, classy. It would be as much a gorgeous book to give to my daughter as a gift as to give to my mother. It has a lovely timeless quality about it. I could see having this one on my shelf for generations.
What parent and child hasn’t tried to outdo each other when expressing their love for each other? Little Nutbrown Hare wants his daddy, Big Nutbrown Hare, to know just how much he really loves him. Having a difficult time putting it into words and not knowing how to express his love for his father, Little Nutbrown Hare keeps coming up with more and more as his father tries to outdo him each time. After the little bunny falls asleep, the father wins with an expression of love that can’t be outdone. Fun to read together and endearing to moms, dads, and children everywhere, this tale brings home the ‘I love you more’ game. Bedtime or not, this is one story that you will want to share over and over again, and who knows, it may even help you come up with more ways to express your love for your little ones
As many parents and children know, bedtime is not usually a child’s favorite time of day. In this delightful tale of a dinosaur at bedtime, there is every excuse not to go to bed, every reaction that most parents have been given by their children at one time or another when bedtime rolls around, and it’s all done in a humorous and silly way. Human moms and dads, trying to put their huge dinosaur children to bed make this story one that will give you and your children lots of laughs, and bring home the point of making bedtime easier and more loving. Hugs and kisses, and saying a happy ‘goodnight’ wins out, even with dinosaurs.
Audrey Penn is the author of this truly one of a kind story. When little Chester, a young raccoon, is scared to leave his mother and go to school, she gives him something that makes everything alright. She kisses his palm and tells him that the kiss will help make school as warm and nice of a place to be as home is. When Chester begins to feel lonely or scared, he presses his hand to his chest and feels the warmth of his mother’s kiss in his heart. This is one sentimental and heartwarming story that will help even the youngest child deal with changes they have to go through.
We have a wide range of ages in our family, from toddler to grade-schooler – and a healthy variety of reading tastes, too. And so I can’t guarantee that every kid will love every book on these lists of the best picture books, but I can tell you that every one of these books wowed my test audience of three very different kids, plus me and my husband. I’m also pretty annoying about telling friends and family to give these books as birthday and holiday and “just because” presents, and every single time they report back: Everyone loved the book! The kid and the parents.
Everyone loves a funny story, and this is one that will give you and your children more laughs than you bargained for. When the night watchman at the zoo checks on the gorilla and tells him ‘good night.’ The gorilla steals the keys to all the other cages of all the other animals. While he follows the watchman around and watches him say good night, completely unobserved, he lets each animal out, one at a time. The animals follow the watchman home and end up sneaking into his house. With the surprises that follow and the fun that awaits, you and your children are sure to not be disappointed with this tale.
What better combination story for children than one that weaves a delightful tale with a lesson? Teaching the days of the week and counting, Eric Carle’s imaginative illustrations and dramatic storytelling in this book unfold the life of a caterpillar from the moment it is in an egg to the transformation it makes into a beautiful butterfly. With such wonderful text, magnificent illustrations, and attention grabbing detail, it’s no wonder that this story has won numerous awards and has been recognized in many countries as being among the best in children’s literature. Everyone loves a great children’s picture book, but this one goes to the top of the list when looking at the most loved by children and adults alike. Warmth, a winning storyline, and lessons that can be shared and observed in nature itself will bring you and your child together as you share this amazing story. Reading together is something to cherish especially when it happens to be with a story that you will keep in your hearts and one of the top 100 children’s books of all-time.
Mrs. Biddlebox – This is possibly my favorite picture book of all time, and I don’t say that lightly. Unfortunately, it’s out of print. The good news is you can get a used copy in good condition on Amazon. Mrs. Biddlebox wakes up in a bad mood, but instead of sitting around like a grouch, she tackles that bad mood and turns it around in time for sleep. We reach for this book anytime my little ones and I have butted heads during the day, and it’s the perfect tool to help us process the bad mojo and end the day on a positive note.
Oh, Harry! He hates baths so much that he’s willing to run away from his beloved family for a romp through construction sites and coal chutes until he’s no longer a white dog with black spots, but a black dog with white spots. When Harry finds himself unrecognizable to his loved ones, he learns that being clean might not be so bad after all. A book that will make anyone sit up and beg for another reading.

Many more picture book biographies appeal to upper elementary school age kids while still others appeal to both upper elementary and middle school age kids. Some recommended picture book biography titles include and A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, both of which were written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet and The Librarian of Basra: A True Story of Iraq, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter.
Also, you could find multiple mythological books for children – like Ganesha, Prahalad, Shiva, Krishna and friends, Hanuman, Indian festivals and much more. All these stories have a few things in common – the power of good, the destruction of evil, the importance of making good choices and loving, respecting and protecting families and friends at all times.
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