Are you looking for some beautiful picture books to read with your kids? Check out our top 11 picks! From classic tales to modern favorites, these books are sure to please both you and your little ones.
Looking for more wholesome, easy-to-read stories for kids? Dash Into Learning: Early Reading is Here!
How did we choose this book list?
We went through a lot of different criteria when choosing the books for this list.
- The book had to have an actual story with a plot and engaging stories. I find kids don't engage well with the feel-good abstract or conceptual picture books that have become prevalent.
- Quality illustrations were key. As an artist, I am quite picky about this! I chose these books because we love to just look at the illustrations over and over because of the great design, detail, beauty, and charm.
- It had to be well written. This is my top priority. The words must flow, be fun, sweet, or beautiful all at once.
- The book had to align with my values and promote "feeling." Many of these books evoke quite tender feelings when we read them. It’s good for children to learn to feel these things in the safe space of a picture book. Good lessons being taught in a sensitive way -- not an annoying "hit you over the head" kind of way!
- Finally, it has to have stood the test of time. These are all pretty much classics in their own right—people keep coming back to them, but most importantly, MY KIDS keep coming back to them over and over.
In the end, we came up with a list of books that we think are some of the most beautiful picture books out there. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
Our Choices for the Eleven Top Picture Books of All Time
Here are our choices for the eleven top picture books of all time:
1. Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett
Maybe I am biased as a horse owner but when Fritz becomes the hero in this classic tale, well, it stole my heart! I am sure it will steal yours too. Fritz shows us that courage and kindness matter much more than outer beauty or superficial things. My kids love the adorable pony, Fritz, and all the details in the fancy horses!
2. A Fly Went By by Mike McClintok
This book is such a fun story of a boy wondering about a fly. The fly is in a frantic chase with a host of other critters ensues. The poetry is very sing-song and the kids love tracking the progress of all the creatures! Not only is it hilarious, but it shows how understanding the entire picture and calmly trying to solve a problem is really the solution!
3. The Empty Pot by Demi
This Old Chinese folktale is filled with beautiful themes teaching young children honesty, resiliency, patience, and courage. It doesn't hurt that the images are beautiful color illustrations that portray the unique Chinese art styling. My kids are always on the edge of their seat wondering what the little boy will do when faced with his moral dilemma!
If you would like to give your child a great introduction to social emotional learning that teaches resilience be sure to see our Dash Into Happy series.
4.The Wild Horses of Sweet Briar by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
Again a horse book made our list-we are smitten. The Wild Horses of Sweet Briar is based on a true story. It never hurts to squeeze in a bit of historical facts when reading to the kids. Set in 1903 the heroine recalls a particularly rough winter from her childhood where she encounters a herd of wild horses that have fallen on hard times. It's a beautifully written, sensitive story that teaches young children the important lesson of charity and the girl and her family end up sharing what they have for food with the starving herd.
5. No Roses for Harry by Gene Zion
Harry the Dirty Dog is back in this fun loving classic from Gene Zion. Lots of everyday foolishness ensues as Harry is gifted a knit sweater covered in roses that he dislikes. Your kids will ask you to read this over and over again. Harry is the fun mischief maker my kids can't get enough of.
6. The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman
Finally a book is written to cover the topic of pick-eaters. Whats not to like about hilarious illustrations and real life drama packed into a funny story? The poetry is so clever and there is so much detail for the kids to look at. The family coming together at the end to solve their picky-eater problem is amazing!
7. Richard Scarry’s Great Big Schoolhouse
I remember being small and loving the illustrations in these fun classic books. Now I happily share the fun loving tales with my girls. It's chock full of great lessons from teaching time, the alphabet, to colors and mixing colors. And of course I love that it introduces small kids to cursive writing too. Hours of reading with this book!
If you would like to teach your kids cursive writing take a look at our Dash Into Cursive!
8. Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
This sweet Golden Book about a little bunny searching for a place to belong really is beautifully illustrated and written. The repetitive nature of the words is very comforting for my kids. Such a heartwarming tale that ends his search for a home when he finds another bunny companion. The best conclusion that kids love.
9. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Put aside the controversy for a minute and think about the sacrifices we make for those we love. Sacrifice is a virtue not often celebrated. This book is a parable showing this important value, which I want to share with my kids. Showing how we grow old and change and make certain choices with consequences is also important and done so well in this book. It's a classic that's touched millions for a reason.
It's important to remember that this book isn't a life guide to how to parent -- boundaries are important! As parents are there to guide kids through the book and see the important parts.
10. A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
This Caldecott award winning book is so sweetly 'told' although it is nearly wordless. The story of Little Daisy who loves her favorite ball until a bigger dog comes along and ruins it. She has to deal with the loss of a beloved toy. The illustrations show the motions SO well. My kids will cry and feel with Daisy the dog! I think a book that evokes this sort of empathy is so valuable.
11. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
This is a pure classic and so well loved here! A sweet tale of a Parisian girl who has daily adventures as she attends a French boarding school. It's a wonderful book filled with small lessons about learning from your mistakes while staying joyful and resilent. Plus the illustrations around Paris are so fun along with the adorable poetry.
We Hope You've Enjoyed Finding a "New" Book Here.
There's nothing like stumbling on a classic in the making. If you've found even one new book on this list, I am happy! Reading is such a joyful journey and a great way to introduce new concepts about life to children.
As parents we get to discuss important issues that may be represented in a book. Books can open the door to many a great debate or discussion. Now, go ahead and get to reading!
Which book do you recommend?
There's nothing quite like a small child asking for the same book night after night. It's such great quality time spent reading with your kids. Or if they are a bit older, you can ask them to read to you!
There are many beautiful picture books for kids to read, but which one do you think holds up? What books do your kids love reading over and over again?