30 Picture Books Worth Buying for Your Child’s Library (ages 0-4+)

A couple of weeks ago, I shared our chapter book list for kids in grades 1 through 6. Due to popular demand, I am sharing a list of 30 children’s picture books both my kids and I have loved reading together. I tried to include a mix of sentimental and fun books, as well as bedtime stories and books with great messages that can be read well after four years of age.

Ages 0+

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Published in 1969, this classic book tells the story of a very hungry caterpillar who eats through a variety of foods during the week on the way to becoming a butterfly. The book features unique, colourful illustrations, die-cut pages showing what the caterpillar ate, as well as an introduction to number sets up to 5 objects, the days of the week, and the metamorphosis of the caterpillar.

2. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

Published in 1967, this book is designed to help little ones associate colours to objects. The gentle rhyming pattern is easily predictable and allows toddlers to join in as you read.

3. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

Published in 1991, this book written in repetitive rhyme, is designed to help young readers associate zoo animals with the noises that they make.

4. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

Published in 1989, this book written in rhyme, introduces readers to the English Alphabet as anthropomorphized lower-case letters climb up a coconut tree.

5. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

Published in 1995 and the recipient of many awards, this book tells the story of the love shared between Little NutBrown Hare and his father, Big NutBrown Hare, as the little ones asks, “Guess how much I love you?”

6. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox

Published in 2008, this relatively new book written in rhyme, reminds readers that all babies, despite where in the world they are born, share the common trait of having ten little fingers and ten little toes.

7. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Published in 1947, this timeless classic written in poetic rhyme, tells the story of a of a bunny’s bedtime routine of saying “goodnight” to both inanimate and living things in his room.

8. Why I Love My Mommy by Daniel Howarth

This newer book features the many reasons why a child loves his/her mother, as told by children in their own words alongside beautiful, heartfelt illustrations. Why I Love My Daddy, Grandpa, and Grandma are also available.

9. Padmini is Powerful by Amy Maranville

This early reader introduces readers to main Hindu Gods and Goddesses as the South-Asian child character, Padmini identifies each powerful attribute that she shares with that deity. The last page of this board book features a mirror, reminding readers that they too, are powerful just like Padmini.

Ages 1+

10. Around the We World We Go! by Margaret Wise Brown

This story features simple, repetitive song-like phrases that can be easily repeated by toddlers and beautifully detailed illustrations showcasing different parts of the world, landmarks, and people. Although the word content is minimal, this book is an example of a picture speaks a thousand words.

11. Goodnight, Little One by Margaret Wise Brown

A newer book, this poetic bed-time story complete with gorgeous illustrations tells the story of animals and a little child that stop what they are doing to close their eyes and sleep as night falls.

12. Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert

Published in 1989, this book introduces young readers to the English alphabet as well as the many different fruits and vegetables that begin with each letter.

13. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christielow

This popular nursey rhyme in picture-book form tells the story of five little monkeys who one-by-one jump, fall, and bump their heads, only to get hauled off to the doctor by their mother.

14. I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

This uplifting book, more of a list than a story, features 14 different wishes the parent has for his/her child such as “more will than hill.”

Ages 2+

15. If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff

Published in 1985, this playful circular tale begins with a child giving a mouse a cookie who then asks for milk to go with it. After requesting a few other things, the mouse asks for milk which reminds him that he needs to cookie to go with it, thereby ending the curricular pattern that is this story.

16. Curious George by Margret Hey & H. A. Hey

First published in 1941, the first book in this series tells the story of an orphaned monkey, George and his adventures with the Man in the Yellow Hat.

17. Someday by Allison McGhee

A newer, very sweet book, written in the perspective of a mother, highlights the life cycle of motherhood; an emotional book for mothers with daughters.

18. On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

This poetic picture-book with captivating illustrations sends little readers the message that they are special and unique; a great book to celebrate the birth or first birthday of a child.

Ages 3+

19. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

Published in 1986, this book tells the story of the evolving relationship between a mother and her son while gently affirming that a mom/parent’s love is forever.

20. Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman

Published in 1988, this story is about Joseph and his blanket, made by his grandfather, which gets remade into a variety of things as Joseph outgrows each item one-by-one until there is nothing left but a story. The beautifully detailed illustrations will capture all readers, regardless of age.

21. Corduroy by Don Freeman

Published in 1968, this book tells the story of a teddy bear named Corduroy who wanders around the department store after dark looking for the missing button of his overall. He doesn’t find the button but he finds a home with a little girl named Lisa.

22. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

First published in 1971, this story tells the tale of the Lorax, who speaks for trees, as he confronts the Once-ler and works to protect the environment.

23. Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers

This relatively new book, a clever and beautiful introduction to the world, focuses on the need for kindness, caring for the planet and eachother, and embracing what makes us unique yet the same. The illustrations are detailed and thought-provoking.

24. Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson

Published in 2012, the eighth book in this series, tells the story of Bear who feels as though he has nothing to add to a feast with his friends who all contribute an edible gift, until his friends remind him that he has lots to share.

25. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Written in 1962, this story features a boy from a minority exploring his neighbourhood after the first snowfall of the season.

26. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Published in 1995, this story features a four-year old little boy named Harold who has the power to create anything he wishes by simply drawing it with his purple crayon.

Ages 4+

27. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Published in 1963, this book is the story of a young boy sent to bed early by his mother for misbehaving. Once there, he imagines escaping to the world of wild things.

28. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

This classic, published in 1936, tells the story of a bull named Ferdinand who would rather sit and smell flowers than fight in bullfights. This story reinforces the timeless message of staying true to oneself.

29. Oh, the Places You Will Go! by Dr. Seuss

Published in 1990, this story follows a boy in pyjamas as he takes a look a what life may have in store for him including success, difficulties, and everything in between. The story repeatedly affirms that as long as you have “brains in your head and feet in your shoes” you can steer yourself in any direction that you choose.

30. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Published in 1964, this classic yet controversial book, tells the story of a tree and her selfless love for a boy as she gives away parts of herself from her apples to her branches to make the boy happy.

What are some of your favourite children’s books? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

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