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Introducing The Top 101 Picture Books

You know I love lists. That’s how this blog got started. And I love kids. I have two of them. So when Amy Smith from the blog Motherhood and Miscellany approached me about a guest post revealing her top 101 picture books, as well as her inspiration for creating the list, I couldn’t resist accepting the offer. Take it away, Amy. 

I am an avid reader of fiction, both for myself and with my daughters, ages four, three, and 18 months. In April, I got a set of 10 brochures, each listing 100 picture books to read before kindergarten, organized into categories (Caldecott winners, Sports, Funny,etc.).

My Mom is a children’s librarian in a small town and put the 1,000 books together out of those available in the library where she works. One of the categories was “100 Must Reads.”

I immediately gravitated toward that list and focused my energies on obtaining and reading every one of the 100 books on it with my kids as quickly as possible. I finished them somewhere in the middle of the summer, having found many gems that my kids and I both loved reading, as well as several books that I hope never to see again.

I decided to make a new list, including the great titles we had discovered from my Mom’s, and adding our favorite books to create an official list of the “Top 101 Fictional Picture Books.”

Okay, I know. The list isn’t really official.

I’m no literary expert. I’m not a specialist in children’s literature or art. I don’t write for Time Magazine. But I have read a lot of children’s books.

I have ventured with my kids into many great ones and plenty that I was tempted to hide from them so as not to have to read them ever again. Okay, a few I actually did hide, at least temporarily. So no, I have no true credentials.

But, being a mom who has read hundreds of books to my kids at least gives me some street cred. I think. And I did have a few criteria for inclusion on the list.

All of the books:

1. Are fiction.

2. Are books my kids request again and again.

3. Are books I don’t mind reading over and over.

None of the books:

1. Are those that I consider to be so popular that their inclusion makes this list kind of pointless (such as Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, etc.)

2. Are about a cartoon character that appears in a children’s show or movie (though a few had movies made from the books).

3. Are, to my knowledge, out of print and difficult to get (like some of our faves: Goose and the Mountain Lion by Harris or The Animals’ Song by Harrison).

4. Are overly girly (I could have included Ponyella by Numeroff or The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Barrager).

5. Make me feel like curling up in a fetal position and crying so my kids will let me stop reading.

Finally, I just couldn’t quite get past the 101 Books mark for narrowing them down. So, I ended up with:

The Top 101 Fictional Picture Books.

You can read the entire list by clicking the link above. Below are the top 15 from the list:

A Bad Case of Stripes – Shannon

Can I Play Too? – Willems

Click, Clack, Moo – Cronin

The Duckling Gets a Cookie?! – Willems

The Gruffalo – Donaldson

Interrupting Chicken – Stein (my all-time favorite)

Kitten’s First Full Moon – Henkes

Max’s Words – Banks

Mouse Was Mad – Urban

Officer Buckle and Gloria – Rathman

Owl Babies – Waddell

The Paper Bag Princess – Munsch

The Pout Pout Fish – Diesen

Stellaluna – Cannon

Stuck – Jeffers

What are your favorites?

Which ones do you wish would be lost forever?

Read more from Amy Smith over at her blog Motherhood and Miscellany. 

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. I will become a grandmother for the first time in a few months, so I found your list awesome since I have been out of the loop as far as reading to little kids for a very long time. One very memorable old children’s book, probably written in the ’70’s, was “Kermit the Hermit” by Bill Peet. He has other titles but the crab book was our favorite. It rhymes, has great pictures and as a parent I loved it as much as the kids.


    December 4, 2013
  2. mind blowing …..!!!!!


    December 4, 2013
  3. Love this list! Stellaluna is such a tender story and one of my favorites from childhood. It is permanently in my personal library as well as in my classroom. I would also suggest a book or two by Tomie dePaola, like The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush or Strega Nona.



    December 4, 2013
    • Amy #

      I like those Tomie dePaola books also, but his have never been among my girls’ favorites. The two you mentioned are the ones I enjoy most of his books.


      December 5, 2013
  4. The Gruffalo is just the best. It’s my favourite for reading aloud with kids, the characters are brilliant.


    December 4, 2013
    • Amy #

      Yes, I agree. It is my husband’s #1 favorite, and a close second for me behind Interrupting Chicken. My kids love The Gruffalo’s Child too, and pretty much all of Donaldson’s other books (a Squash and a Squeeze is fun).


      December 5, 2013
  5. Teresa Garland #

    Do you need trucker gps? I use google and Tomtom on my iphone.

    Sent from my iPhone



    December 4, 2013
  6. One of my favourites is The Stinky Cheese Man And Other Fairly Stupid Tales… it’s a bunch of fairy tales, but… bizarre. Also, Alligator Pie.


    December 4, 2013
  7. Wow, what a cool idea! I’m amazing that you took the time to put together that list…

    It’s a shame they’re all in English, though. There are some fantastic books from outside the U.S. with amazing illustrations… such as “Selvagem” by Roger Mello, a Brazilian illustrator. There aren’t any words, and it’s easy to follow the story of a naughty tiger who escapes from his photograph cage… more info: I’d also recommend Peter Sis’s beautifully illustrated book about Prague, entitled “The Three Golden Keys,” which is in English ( It’s a great way to help expose your kids to other cultures early on!


    December 4, 2013
  8. My all time favorite is The Rainbow Goblins by Ul De Rico. It never makes anyone’s list… but the art is amazing. My sister and I loved this book so much growing up and I still have it featured in my library. Just amazing!!


    December 4, 2013
    • Amy #

      I’ve never heard of that one. I’ll have to check it out!


      December 5, 2013
  9. The Interrupting Chicken is one of my favorites!


    December 7, 2013

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