Instilling a love of reading from infancy and beyond ~ picture book recommendations included!


Joshua listening to Goodnight Moon

Joshua listening to Goodnight Moon (2007)

When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I by food and clothes. ~ Desideriuos Erasmus (1469-1536)

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. ~ Emilie Buchwald

Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.~ Mary Schmich

How do you raise a child who loves to read?

It should come as no surprise that raising a prolific reader is best done by parents who love to read-and if they are avid readers that is even better. Parents who love to read, but do not read very much will not be as likely to raise good readers as parents who read prolifically. Probably, the most important thing you can do is to read to your child—for hours on end. I have always felt like I have learned more by traveling into my books than from any of my formal education!

I often hear parents say that they read bedtime stories. This is a great start. However, if you really want to raise a reader, read on and off all day long. You can easily read a baby and/or small child anywhere from 50-100 age appropriate books a day — think of those tiny and very short chunky books – some of them take less than a minute to read! You can probably read a small child 10-20 average length picture books each day! This time commitment will not even make it difficult to run an efficient household and tend to the various needs of other family members (i.e. spouse nurturing, serving others, homeschooling, keeping a clean home). Read during potty learning. Read before naptime and bedtime. Read after playing outside. Read for fun. Read to learn. Just read.

How can you choose books that will be of interest to your baby?

Read chunky books to your baby—the kind with nice sturdy pages and brightly colored pictures. Choose books with simple sentences, engaging narratives and interesting pictures. Rhyming books are a lot of fun. Also choose interactive books—lift the flaps, touch and feel, peek-a-boo. Provide lots of books with real-life pictures of babies and animals. Choose books with quality art. Most babies are quite interested in real-life pictures, but not quite as enthralled with the typical cartoon art that makes up many baby books. Steer away from the mass market books for television shows and movies. These books are often not the best as far as engaging storyline and quality art.

How can you ensure that your baby will sit and listen to your story?

Choose age appropriate books. In the womb you can read anything you want and they’ll love just hearing your voice! When your child is born begin right away. Choose engaging books! Intonate your voice, make animal sounds, encourage the baby to participate (hand clapping, waving at the picture, smiling like the baby in the book). If your baby wants the same book over and over, read it over and over. Put baskets of books out to peak your childrens’ interest as they begin stages of mobility. Set up little areas with a small chair and a basket of books. Be available to read to them when they bring you a book!

Do not allow unlimited television viewing. Turn it off and leave it off most of the time. This will ensure that you do not have any competition. Make a show or a movie an event, not something that is always present in the background!

If you begin in infancy, you will not have issues—reading will be a habit. If you start late in childhood or read sporadically, you’ll have to work a bit harder. Just make it fun. If your child just won’t sit still at first, begin by reading the books out loud to yourself or even to an animal. Wait for the child to come see what all the fun is about!! This may take some time, but assuming your child enjoys your company, he’ll be lured in by your engaging narrative! Remember to choose fun, interesting books. Boring books will not encourage a love of reading.

As your child grows…

As time passes, your baby will outgrow chunky books and will be interested in longer stories. You will not have to worry about ripping and tearing pages. Your baby, shown a love of books, will know how to handle them. He will sit longer and bring you new books that interest him from other shelves. Now is the time to introduce him to longer stories. You should be able to tell what books he is ready for at each stage. If he loses interest in a longer book, just put it away for later. This is a gradual process. Don’t force him to sit for a book he is not interested in. This does not seem to be a good way to ensure a love for reading. As he grows and develops, he will be able to listen to longer picture books with meatier stories. Never lose your engaging voice and never make reading a burdensome time. You are instilling a love for reading that will pave the way for everything your child ever learns from a book.

As your child begins to read…

Somewhere during his early childhood years, your child will learn to read on his own. In the beginning, the books he reads aloud will be much simpler than the longer narratives he is now able to listen to after years of read aloud time. He may be reading Dr. Seuss to you, but he will be able to listen to Lewis or Tolkien read aloud. Continue to read aloud throughout your child’s life. There are wonderful picture books for children of all ages. As time passes, you will read fewer picture books and more novels. Offer a variety of books from various genres, but let him have favorites. If he prefers one genre to another, encourage him to explore other genres from time to time. I don’t recommend that you allow him to feast on books that do not have any literary worth—which you will find in abundance in modern series fiction. Keep in mind that many of the books geared toward children are formulaic in nature and will not offer enrichment or enlightenment. Do not assume children’s literature will be worthwhile or safe. Just as you choose appropriate books for your infant, choose appropriate books for your older children.

Some favorite books…

These picture books are chosen because we have enjoyed them immensely over the years. I’ve tried to categorize them with books for similar ages—short books for small children, more detailed stories and serious stories for older children. A few of them we love so much we think every child should be introduced to them—these books are noted. Some of them are simply too fun or too clever to miss. Many of them have beautiful illustrations. New picture books are introduced every day. Most of my choices will not be from the past decade because our picture book library was mostly built 15-20 years ago. Check the library for new titles. Look for beautiful art, a clever storyline, and engaging characters. Reading opens doors, stimulates the imagination, and encourages children to soar to new heights. Good literary characters become like friends. Good ideas make impressions on us that just may change our lives.

 Recommended Picture Books—the Silly, the Sweet and the Sober

Some of my Favorite Favorites—(also listed elsewhere)

  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Little House by Virginia Burton
  • Little Oh by Laura Krauss Melmed
  • Rainbabies by Laura Krauss Melmed
  • When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
  • Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman
  • Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
  • Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling
  • Miss Suzy by Miriam Young
  • The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  • Babushka’s Doll by Patricia Pollaco
  • Never Tease a Weasel by Jean Conder Soule
  • The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
  • The Story of Little Babaji by Helen Bannerman
  • Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema
  • Yertle the Turtle & other Stories by Dr. Seuss
  • The Tale of the Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter
  • The Very Best Nest by P. D. Eastman
  • The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
  • The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
  • Tie: Where’s the Baby and Where’s the Puppy by Cheryl Christian—our babies’ favorite early books!

A Wealth of Good Stories—

I want to put a plug in for all of the beautifully Illustrated and/or cultural variations of fairy tales and fables—(300’s section of the library). There are too many to list, though some are included below, and I don’t have access to all of them. Go to your library and strip the section bare. Enjoy!!

Assorted Authors: Simple books for infants, babies and toddlers—

Helpful Hint: Babies and toddlers love chunky books, lift the Flap books, touch and feel books and pop-up books. Many classics come in a chunky version for babies!

  • Daddy Loves Me by Cindy Waters
  • Mama Loves Me by Cindy Waters
  • Just Like Daddy by Cecilia Johansson
  • Just Like Mommy by Cecilia Johansson
  • Quack Quack by Louise Rupnik (Touch and Feel Priddy Books)
  • Puppy Love by Louise Rupnik (Touch and Feel Priddy Books)
  • Zoo's Who by Robert Tainsh (Touch and Feel Priddy Books)
  • I Love My Daddy Because by Laura Porter-Gaylord
  • I Love My Mommy Because by Laura Porter-Gaylord
  • Animal Babies on Mountains (Kingfisher)
  • Animal Babies Around the House (Kingfisher)
  • Animal Babies on the Farm (Kingfisher)
  • Animal Babies in Towns and Cities (Kingfisher)
  • Tails by Matthew Van Fleet
  • Dog by Matthew Van Fleet
  • Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings by Matthew Van Fleet
  • Alphabet by Matthew Van Fleet
  • Chicka Chicka ABC by John Archambault
  • Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
  • Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
  • So Many Bunnies by Rick Walton
  • One More Bunny by Rick Walton
  • Animal Sounds Illus. by Aurelius Battaglia
  • Good Morning, Good Night! By Young & Mitchell
  • I am a Bunny by Ole Risom
  • Mama Mama by Jean Marzolla
  • Click, Clack, MOO by Doreen Cronin
  • Moo, Baa, LA LA LA! By Sandra Boynton
  • Where’s the Baby by Cheryl Christian
  • Where’s the Puppy by Cheryl Christian
  • Peek-A-Boo by Janet & Allan Ahlberg
  • A Was Once an Apple Pie by Edward Lear
  • Mama Cat has Three Kittens by Denise Fleming
  • Are You my Mother by P.D. Eastman
  • The Very Best Nest by P. D. Eastman
  • Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak
  • That’s Good! That’s Bad by Margery Cuyler
  • The Napping House by Audrey Wood
  • Mama, Do You Love Me by Barbara M. Joosse
  • Good Night Harry by Kim Lewis
  • Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo by Kevin Lewis
  • Whose Mouse are You by Robert Kraus
  • I Don’t Want to Take a Bath! by Julie Sykes
  • I Don’t Want to Go to Bed! by Julie Sykes
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
  • Lost in the Woods by Carl Sams II
  • Stranger in the Woods by Carl Sams II
  • Don’t Let the Pigeons Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
  • Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allen Ahlberg
  • Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
  • Dogger by Shirley Hughes
  • A Song For Little Toad by Vivian French
  • You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano
  • I Love You as Much by Laura Krauss Melmed
  • Love is a Handful of Honey by Giles Andreae
  • Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox
  • Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy White Carlstrom
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
  • Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
  • Silly Sally by Audrey Wood
  • Toes, Ears, & Nose! By Marion Dane Bauer
  • Daddy Kisses by Gutman and Hallensleben
  • Mommy Hugs by Gutman and Hallensleben

Assorted Authors—clever baby, older toddler and beyond

  • The Real Mother Goose illustrated by Blanche Wright
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Look-Alikes by Joan Steiner (entire series)
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by John Archambault
  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw
  • On Mother’s Lap by Ann Herbert Scott
  • Going To Sleep On the Farm by Wendy Cheyette Lewison
  • Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
  • Papa’s Bedtime Story by Mary Lee Donovan
  • If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover
  • Rich Cat, Poor Cat by Bernard Waber
  • How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman
  • Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
  • The Early Bird by Richard Scarry
  • Best Counting Book Every by Richard Scarry
  • Best Mother Goose Ever by Richard Scarry
  • The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by D and A Wood
  • When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
  • Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman
  • The Story of Little Babaji (also called The Boy and the Tigers & Little Black Sambo) by Helen Bannerman
  • Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema
  • Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
  • Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  • Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Burton
  • The Little House by Virginia Burton
  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shove by Virginia Burton
  • Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Fleming, Candace
  • • Angus and the Cat by Marjorie Flack
  • The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
  • It’s Mine by Leo Lionni
  • A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza
  • The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
  • Corduroy by Don Freeman
  • Dandelion by Don Freeman
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
  • The Wild Toboggan Ride by Suzan Reid
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
  • Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
  • Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (entire series)
  • The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
  • Thy Friend, Obadiah by Brinton Turkle
  • The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  • Just Like You by Jane Fearnley
  • Bunny Mail by Rosemary Wells
  • Yoko by Rosemary Wells
  • Charlie and Tess by Martin Hall
  • The Magic Hill by A. A. Milne
  • Gus Was a Friendly Ghost by Jane Thayer
  • Gus and the Baby Ghost by Jane Thayer
  • Catch Me & Kiss Me & Say it Again by the Watsons
  • Julius the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes
  • Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
  • Owen by Kevin Henkes
  • Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  • The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
  • Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
  • The Man Who Didn't Wash His Dishes by Phyllis Krasilovsky
  • The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
  • The Runaway Tortilla by Eric A. Kimmel
  • The Princess and the Kiss by Jennie Bishop
  • The Squire and the Scroll by Jennie Bishop
  • Stone Soup by Ann Mcgovern
  • The Princess Who Never Laughed by Marcia Grunewald
  • Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran
  • Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  • Miss Spider's Tea Party by David Kirk
  • It Could Have Been Worse by A.H. Benjamin
  • Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine by E. Ness
  • The True Princess by Angela Elwell Hunt
  • The Miller, the Boy and the Donkey by La Fontaine
  • Who Owns the Sun by Stacy Chbosky
  • Animalia by Graeme Base
  • What Have You Done Davy? By Brigitte Weninger
  • Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep by Joyce Dunbar
  • Miss Suzy by Miriam Young
  • White Snow Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt
  • When the Fly Flew In…by Lisa Westberg Peters
  • The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader
  • Curious George Series by H.A. Rey
  • Frog and Toad Books by Arnold Lobel

Assorted Authors: longer books and fairy tales

  • A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Walking the Bridge of Your Nose (Wordplay, Rhymes, Poems) by Michael Rosen
  • Aesop’s Fables
  • The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
  • Little Oh by Laura Krauss Melmed
  • Rainbabies by Laura Krauss Melmed
  • Rikki, Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling
  • The Gift of the Magi by O Henry
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  • The Great Redwall Feast by Brian Jacques
  • Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson
  • Little Toot by Hardy Gramatky
  • A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno
  • Buford the Little Bighorn by Bill Peet
  • Always Room for One More by Sorche Nic Leodhas
  • The Four Gallant Sisters by Eric Kimmel
  • The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy
  • Georgia Music by Helen V. Griffith
  • Family Sabbatical by Carol Ryrie Brink
  • The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Marianna Mayer
  • Rumplestiltskin retold and illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky
  • Rapunzel retold and illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky
  • Tops & Bottoms, adapted and illustrated by Janet Stevens (Harcourt)
  • Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters retold by John Steptoe
  • Cinderella by K. Y. Craft
  • Sleeping Beauty by K.Y. Craft
  • King Midas and the Golden Touch by Charlotte Craft
  • The Girl who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble
  • Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young

Multiple Titles by Author, Publisher and Illustrator

Jim Arnosky Nature Books non-fiction & fiction—these and more—older toddler and beyond

  • I See Animals Hiding
  • Babies in the Bayou
  • Rabbits and Raindrops
  • Every Autumn Comes the Bear
  • All About Rattlesnakes
  • Under the Wild Western Sky
  • Deer at the Brook
  • Wild and Swampy
  • Come out Muskrats
  • Little Lions
  • Otters Under Water
  • All About Series (Lions, Sharks, Turkeys, Alligators, Frogs, Owls, Deer, Turtles)
  • Coyote Raid in Cactus Canyon
  • Raccoons and Ripe Corn

Jan Brett Books—these and others—infant and beyond

  • The Hat
  • The Gingerbread Baby
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • The Owl and the Pussycat
  • Town Mouse Country Mouse
  • Gingerbread Friends
  • Fritz and the Beautiful Horses

Eric Carle Books—these and others—infant and beyond

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • The Very Lonely Firefly
  • The Mixed-Up Chameleon
  • The Grouchy Ladybug
  • The Very Busy Spider
  • The Hole in the Dike
  • Walter the Baker
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? (written by Bill Martin)

Tomie dePaola—these and others—older toddler and beyond

  • Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs
  • The Quilt Story
  • Charlie Needs a New Cloak
  • Days of the Blackbird

Russell Hoban—these and a few others—older toddler and beyond

  • Bread and Jam for Frances
  • A Bargain for Frances
  • A Birthday for Frances
  • Bedtime for Frances
  • A Baby Sister for Frances
  • Best Friends for Frances

Graham Oakley—these and a few others—older toddler and beyond

  • The Church Mice
  • The Church Mouse
  • The Church Mice Spread their Wings
  • The Church Mice and the Moon
  • The Church Mice at Bay
  • The Church Mice and the Ring
  • The Church Mice Adrift
  • The Church Mice and the Moon

Helen Oxenbury–these and others–infant and toddler

  • Tickle Tickle
  • Clap Hands
  • We're going on a Bear Hunt
  • All Fall Down
  • Say Good Night

Patricia Pollaco—these and others—older toddler and beyond

  • Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair
  • Just Plain Fancy
  • The Keeping Quilt
  • Babushka’s Doll
  • Mrs. Katz and Tush
  • Pink and Say (*warning-subject matter is serious and sad)

Beatrix Potter—these and a few others—older toddler and beyond

  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  • The Tale of the Two Bad Mice
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  • The Tailor of Gloucester,
  • The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
  • The Tale of Benjamin Bunny
  • The Tale of Two Bad Mice
  • The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle
  • The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan
  • The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher
  • The Story of Miss Moppet
  • The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit
  • The Tale of Tom Kitten
  • The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck
  • The Tale of Samuel Whiskers, or The Roly-Poly Pudding
  • The Tale of Ginger and Pickles
  • The Tale of Flopsy Bunnies
  • The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse
  • The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes
  • The Tale of Mr. Tod
  • The Tale of Pigling Bland
  • The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse
  • The Tale of Little Pig Robinson

Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss/Theo LeSieg) Books—and many more—infant and beyond

  • Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
  • Oh, The Wonderful Things Mr. Brown Can Do by Dr. Seuss
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
  • Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
  • If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  • The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr. Seuss
  • Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
  • Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
  • Great Day for Up by Dr. Seuss
  • Mr. Brown Can Moo by Dr. Seuss
  • Go Dogs, Go by Dr. Seuss
  • In a People House by Theo LeSieg
  • Wacky Wednesday by Theo LeSieg

Usborne Books—these and more—infant to toddler

  • Where’s Woolly? By Heather Amery
  • Where’s Curly? By Heather Amery
  • Where’s Rusty? By Heather Amery
  • Animal Homes by Debbie Martin
  • Baby Animals by A. Smith

Eloise Wilkin (Illustrator) Golden books—infant and beyond

  • Birds by Jane Werner Watson
  • The New Baby by Ruth and Harold Shane
  • Baby Dear by Esther Wilkin
  • The Boy with a Drum by David L. Harrison
  • We Help Daddy by Mini Stein
  • Mother Goose
  • My Puppy by Patsy Scarry
  • Little Golden Book About God By Jane Werner Watson
  • Baby’s Birthday by Patricia Mowers

Golden Book Classics

  • The Pokey Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowery
  • The Saggy Baggy Elephant by Kathryn Jackson
  • The Tawny Scrawny Lion by Kathryn Jackson
  • The Little Red Caboose by Marion Potter
  • The Shy Little Kitten by Cathleen Schurr
  • Animal Daddies and My Daddy by Barbara Shook Hazen
  • The Animals of Farmer Jones by Leah Gale
  • The Jolly Barnyard by Annie North Bedford
  • The Whispering Rabbit by Margaret Wise Brown
Category: Musings
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2 Responses
  1. Muzzy says:

    Great info and encouragement! What would you recommend for an 8 year old girl as her first "real" books to read to herself?

  2. sallyanne says:

    Thanks! I went to my girls' booklists (which I've kept by grade) and found a few to share from their 1st and 2nd grade lists (they would have been between 6-8). I picked out the ones that I could personally recommend and that were favorites of the girls.

    They all read at different levels, so these will be anywhere from easy (she should have no problem) to more difficult (you might want to save them for later).


    The Fairy Realm by Emily Rodda (entire series of books)

    Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (entire series of books)

    Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald (entire series of books)

    The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (entire series of books)

     Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum (entire series of books)

    The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S.Lewis (entire series of books)



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