We Recommend: Picture Books, You Guys!

It's We Recommend, our occasional feature that means 1) someone wrote to us and asked for a book recommendation, 2) we came up with an idea, 3) you wonderful readers will chime in with many fabulous recommendations in the comments. Are you looking for a recommendation for your child (or yourself)? Just write to us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com, and we will happily ponder until we find the perfect book for you. And truly, look in the comments, it's where to find all the best picks.

Hooray, we got a request for a picture book! See here:

"He is 3 and loves almost everything.  Particular faves:  Where the Wild things Are, Amos and Boris, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, the Mother Goose illustrated by Rosemary Wells. More importantly, what I like: fabulous illustrations and poetic language.

We would love some recommendations."

He is 3 and loves almost everything! Oh how far this is from my current life with a 13 and 15 year old. Not that they aren't awesome—they are. But loves almost everything? Not exactly.

This list makes me want to reread all these books again. They're just so good and crazy and wonderful. And boy do we hear the "More importantly, what I like…."

So let's think. Or really, let's be honest (or at least, I will try to be honest) and admit that for me this isn't about thinking at all, but about a heartfelt ache, because with great art I don't really think (which is maybe something I should worry about), I just react. And here is the book that I love, with fabulous illustrations and, as far as I'm concerned, poetic language.


This book is awesome. It's strange and dark and sweet and bizarre, and I could (and have) read it over and over and over. 

But I put this here, knowing that other people have a different definition of poetic language, and likely different choices. What are they—would you put them in the comments for this enthusiastic 3-year-old and his mother?

20 thoughts on “We Recommend: Picture Books, You Guys!

  1. We read and loved (over and over and over) Wolf! Wolf! by John Rocco. The pictures are incredible and the twist on the boy who cried wolf tale is delightful and fun to read many times.
    I think at age 3 our boys’ favorite pick was Easy Street by Rita Gray. They loved the illustrations and the rhyming text. They enjoyed chanting along, finishing the lines, and seeing how a road is constructed.


  2. Fabulous illustrations + poetic language = the complete works of William Steig. Some of the vocabulary is over most kids’ heads but the stories are wonderful, and kids who have a good attention span for books will love them. Particular favorites among my kids are Amos & Boris, Sylvester & the Magic Pebble, and, for some reason, Farmer Palmer’s Wagon Ride.
    Dr. Seuss – his longer stuff, e.g. Horton Hears a Who and, our family favorite, The Lorax, would be a close second.


  3. Seven Silly Eaters
    Owl Moon
    Madeline books
    Bread and Jam for Frances
    The day the Crayons Quit
    Press Here
    Wolf’s Chicken Stew
    We love picture books!!!!


  4. Oh, my heart just skipped a jump. I LOVE picture books. LOVE. I am only resentful because I only have 10 minutes before I am on for the driving of children who still like picture books but are reading chapter books and YA. (Which I love as well, but: PICTURE BOOKS ARE THE BEST!)
    A three year old? Hmmmm.
    I love Eric Carle for preschool. The Very Hungry Caterpillar especially.
    I love Jan Brett as well…The Mitten. Cynthia Rylant: The Bookshop Dog and The Relatives Came
    Barnyard Banter.
    My 13 year old said: There’s a Monster at the End of this Book (Golden book: Sesame Street).
    Peter Rabbit.
    Don’t Fidget a Feather.
    I have to stop…but there are SO MANY MORE!


  5. Any of the books written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen:
    Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee
    A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee
    Learning to Ski with Mr.Magee
    If I Built a Car
    If I Built a House
    Randy Riley’s Big Hit
    The Circus Ship


  6. Miss Rumphius gets my vote.
    To a lesser degree, both Madeline (by Bemelmans) and Ferdinand the Bull because their illustrations might not meet today’s sensibilities.


  7. I love “A House is a House for Me”. So much fun to read out loud, and the illustrations are so intricate and vivid.
    Also the Daisy Duck series (by Jane Simmons, I think?)- beautiful, bright, full page watercolors, with lots of personality
    Oh, and “You are my I love you”- very poetic in its metaphors (I am your good night, you are my wide awake), and playful, beautiful illustrations.


  8. What a great request! Picture books are also a great way to start learning about other cultures and art styles around the world. A favorite my mom just mailed back to me is The Girl Who Loved Horses, a Native American style of illustration that I was drawn to my whole childhood because nothing else looked like it.


  9. My favorite picture books to read with mine were just pictures–no words (or few words). Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie DePaola and 10 Minutes Til Bedtime by Peggy Rathmann (who also wrote the lovely Goodnight Gorilla). Since you mention Where The Wild Things Are, you might want to check out In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak–cool trippy illustrations with poetic language.


  10. Oh, we loved those Rosemary Wells Mother Goose books…
    Bearsie Bear and the Surprise Sleepover Party by Bernard Waber was a huge favorite (and not easily read by an adult who has had a glass of wine).


  11. I second “A House is a House for Me.” We recently unearthed this at my parents’ house and actually my 7yo was transfixed.
    Lots of great classics recommended here but I’ve been enjoying getting into newer picture books lately. My current favorite is “All the World.” Beautiful illustrations with something new to find every time, diverse families, lovely lyrical language without being sentimental. Both the 2yo (boy) and 7yo (girl) crowd around when I read this one. And I actually don’t get tired of reading it, high praise from me!
    If you have a truck-loving child, “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site” is great. Different trucks going through their bedtime routines in rhyming couplets, fun illustrations and actually really well written. Ditto for “Smash! Mash! Crash! There Goes the Trash!”, a paean to garbage trucks with juicy rhymes. My 2yo adores both of these.
    I love “Little Hoot,” about a little owl who doesn’t want to stay up late. And the same author has written a bunch of others including I think “Little Pea.”
    And I like “The Cow that Laid an Egg,” because it’s just silly. 🙂


  12. Coincidentally, I just wrote about a picture book that was so loved it caused temper tantrums from two different toddlers in my family — 19 years apart! http://www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/cars_trucks.html
    While I’m at it, here’s my list of suggestions for ages 2-3: http://sonderbooks.com/blog/?p=1701
    And my list of suggestions for 3-4:
    And the books I consider the Top Ten picture books of all time: http://sonderbooks.com/blog/?p=9546


  13. How about: Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andrae
    A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead
    Horace & Morris (but Mostly Delores)by James Howe
    And the beautiful soothing works of Robert McCloskey – Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal
    I could go on and on as well – but I’ll let others have their say. 🙂


  14. For poetic language I suggest: Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.
    For fun I suggest: Bark George by Jules Feiffer
    Also your child can act out the book while you wait on line or in other settings where you need to stay occupied.
    If you love William Steig it is worth looking for a used copy of Rotten Island, that is one of the best books ever!


  15. I’m late coming to this party, but I wanted to suggest one book in particular for the lovely writing and beautiful woodcut illustrations:
    Tiny’s Big Adventure by Martin Waddell, illus. by John Burningham
    I also enjoy the writing style of Cynthia Rylant (When I Was Young in the Mountains is one of my favorites)


  16. I’m late with this, but here are my suggestions for books with poetic language:
    The Boy and Moon by j. Carroll
    The Little Yellow Leaf by C. Berger
    If You Were Born a Kitten by m. D. Bauer
    And Then it’s Spring by Fogliano
    On the Day You Were Born by D. Frazier
    A Birthday Cake is No Ordinary Cake by D. Frazier
    My Mama Had. Dancing Heart by Gray
    If You Want to See a Whale by Fogliano
    When Mermaids Sleep by Bonwill
    A lot of Otters by Berger
    All the Animals are Almost Asleep by C. Dragonwagon


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