My Ten Most Readable Children’s Picture Books

“Read it again, Mom” can be a phrase I abhor, unless it’s one of these ten books, which I can read over and over and over again. Some kids books are mind numbingly painful and I cringe when I see my little tike toting one of them over to me.  These books have enough pizazz to keep me and my little tikes engaged reading after reading. Hope you enjoy them, too. I love to discover a great book I’ve missed. What are your favorites? Leave titles in the comments below.

#1 King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub

written by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood

From the author/illustrator team of The Napping House, this lesser-known Don & Audrey Wood Picture Book is a gem. The luscious illustrations are an art gallery on their own with loads of creative detail. My kids play “I Spy” with the hilarious items drawn into King Bidgood’s Bathtub Feast. This is a book that you can read over and over and still discover something new each time. I love how out of the entire befuddled kingdom, in the end, it is the simple page boy who saves the day. Glorious illustrations, a sense of meter and rhythm, characters that are easy to voice, and fun onomatopoeia–this book satisfies my craving for great children’s literature on so many levels.

#2 Water Dance

written and illustrated Thomas Locker

I absolutely fell in love with Water Dance the first time I read it to my young sons and my love affair with this brilliant work is rekindled each time I pull it out to read at home or to a Kindergarten class. If you want young reader to have a meaningful encounter with literature, this is your book. Invite kids to dance and move like each of the various types of water in the book. Kids have no inhibitions; if you invite them to dance like a waterfall, a thunderstorm, or a river, they do. With the most delicious illustrations, this book is a feast for the eyes and the soul. Locker’s retelling of RipVan Winkle is also delectible.

#3 Chicken Soup with Rice

by Maurice Sendack

You know this author from Where the Wild Things Are, but if you missed this Sendack book, you missed out. Wonderful rhyme that rolls off the tongue, you want to taste these words over and over again. While teaching months of the years, Sendack has created a literary dessert–a real treat for a read aloud book. For lover’s of Sendack’s unusual humor, an often-missed delight is his In the Night Kitchen.

#4 Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

written by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert

I call this a “Boogie Book” thanks to its great rhythm. You can actually read this book and jive around the room while you read. Who says all reading has to be done sitting down? Meter and rhythm are great foundations for helping kids learn to read. Meter and rhythm help prepare kids for music and dance lessons, and help develop their coordination for sports and martial arts. So reciting all those Nursery Rhymes that seem so silly is actually a great foundation for your child’s future. I could read Chicka Boom hundreds of times (maybe I have…)

#5 Llama Llama Home with Mama

written and illustrated by Ann Dewdney

If there exists in children’s literature, a more titillating phrase than “Llama, llama, red pajama, stop all this llama drama” I have yet to find it. All the books of the Llama Llama series are delightful. Kudos to Dewdney for finding so many fun words that rhyme with llama and make for fun story telling. Of course I love the rhyme of these books, but I also love the messages about childhood behavior.

#6 Go, Dog Go

by P.D. Eastman

My Top Ten Most Readable list would not be complete without the book I have read more than any other book on the planet. This has been all of my kids’ first favorite and the book they request more than any other. Our shortened board book version introduced each of my five kids to reading and they delighted to discover we owned a longer, real-paper version as they got older. I would venture to say that no home library is complete without Go, Dog Go. Those silly dogs teach opposites, color, size relations, go and come, politie conversation, and the tree party in the end is the ultimate climax for reader young and old. I know I will be reading this book to my grandchildren.

#7 Diary of a Worm

written by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss

All the way at #7, I’m questioning why I didn’t put Diary of a Worm as my #1 pick. It was the first children’s picture book I read with my kids that made me say, “Now this is different than anything else I’ve ever read.” Clever. Original. Illustrations that truly enhances the writing. Experience a worm’s two worst fears: sidewalks after rainstorms and fishing season. And where other than in children’s literature can a worm dream of growing up to be a Secret Service agent? In all honesty, I love this book more than my kids do, and it’s usually one than I choose to add to the bedtime reading pile.

#8 Super Fly Guy

by Tedd Arnold

I can’t quite explain why my kids like the Super Fly Guy series. Maybe because my early readers can easily recognize and repeat the boy’s name, “Buzz.” It’s fun to imagine the zany things you could do with a pet fly that you may (or may not) do with a pet dog, cat, guinea pig.  And the books remind us of a favorite joke:

Question:  What do you call a fly without wings?  Answer:  A walk.

Though Buzz doesn’t take Fly Guy on a walk, he takes his pet fly on picnics, on vacation, and to school. Clever storylines and a great first reader.

#9 We Share Everything

by Robert Munsch

Best know for Love You Forever, Robert Munsch books are especially readable. Always has a repetitive phrase that kids love to say along. Somehow, Munsch gives you permission to be extra silly, live the bizarre, and live out the scenario such as “What if I did take a baby alligator to school?” or  “What if we really did share everything, even our clothes.”

#10 Skippyjon Jones

by Judy Schachner

I don’t speak Spanish, but when I’m asked to read this book out loud, I cannot stop myself from morphing into a sleek, Mexican accent. Magically through the rhythm and phonetics of her narration, Schachner makes a Spanish accent so accessible and FUN! I confess, this little Siamese Cat who believes he’s a Mexican Chihuahua is irresistible.