Picture Books and Reading Aloud: A Match Made in Heaven

Last week, Betsy Bird (Fuse #8) announced that she is conducting a 100 Best Picture Books readers poll on her blog at School Library Journal.  She is looking for our top ten personal favorites, in order of preference. Betsy’s deadline is March 31, but since picture books and reading aloud go together, I set my personal deadline for this week.

Every time I thought I had the list together, I’d see one more post and the pile would come toppling to the floor.  For now I have stopped the other great lists!  I’m still fidgeting with the order, but today is my (self-imposed) deadline. So here goes … in alphabetical order.


The Empty Pot by Demi This is a beautifully told, beautifully illustrated folktale.

Hug illustrated by Jez Alborough It’s hard to compare this with other picture books, because with Hug, this is less about the story and more about the memorable experience of reading this with a young child on your lap.

Jumbo’s Lullaby written by Laura Krauss Melmed, illustrated by Henri Sorensen Brightly-colored illustrations complement a soothing poem about a baby elephant.

Lily and the Paper Man written by Rebecca Upjohn, illustrated by Renne Benoit This is a beautifully presented story of overcoming fears and compassion that doesn’t bang you over the head with its message.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. As kids, we would take turns playing the parts in the story – even the boys wanted to be Mary Ann.

The Princess Gown written by Linda Leopold Straus, illustrated by Malene Laugesen. Every list needs a fairy tale, and this one has all of the classic elements, without being  Disney-fied.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. This is one of my all-time favorite books. Even thinking about it, I can hear the crunch, crunch.

The Story about Ping written by Marjorie Flack, illustrated by Kurt Wiese. I would spend hours with this book. I “Yangtze River” sounded so exotic.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig.  This is a story I remember only by rediscovering it with Catherine.  It reminded me of The Musicians of Bremen, a beloved Grimms fairy tale.

Time for Bed by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jane Dyer Every list needs a lullaby.

3 responses to “Picture Books and Reading Aloud: A Match Made in Heaven

  1. You know what a great Mem Fox fan I am , so I have to agree there! (Although, you know what, I would almost put her latest, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes at the top of my Mem list. Although…and then ….) But it is really interesting about Ping. I love that story too. I wish I could pin down what makes a great picture book to my own satisfaction.

  2. Thanks, y’all. This trip down memory lane has gotten me thinking about all kinds of books. I remember this series I read in probably 4th or 5th grade. There were three or four books, probably set in the south (which was a very exotic place to a girl from Baltimore). It isn’t called shoo-fly pie, but it has shoo-fly pie in it. And of course, I can’t remember the author … ack!

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