My kids, nearly two and four, love to be read to and I love to read to them as long as the books are lyrically written and creatively illustrated — and they don’t encourage harming animals (original Curious George, anyone?), or feature name-calling or cranky parents (too many to list).
Extra points go to books with female main characters, especially those that break gender stereotypes (no Skippy Jon Jones, please), because the overwhelming majority of children’s book characters are male.
Some of our current favorites are City Dog, Country Frog, Tumford the Terrible, Bear Snores on, and Love is You & Me. These are all delightful enough for me and my kids both that I don’t mind reading them again and again, but I want more.
Offbeat Families readers, what are your favorites? — Aly
Comments on What are your favorite animal-friendly, beautifully-illustrated kid’s books?
Charlie the Ranch Dog by Ree Drummond is actually quite charming. My 13 month old really likes it! Charlie is the title character, but he has a pal named Suzie who is in most of the book.
I remember Tight Times from my childhood, and its themes are apt for our current world. The boy gets a cat and calls it dog because they can’t afford a dog, but comes to love the cat all the more…
My animal-loving little girl is starting to outgrow her picture books, but here are some we couldn’t bear to give up: The Salamander Room, Duck on a Bike, and all our Nancy Willard books like A Visit to William Blake’s Inn and Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch.
When it comes to books with animal main characters like Duck on a Bike, there’s no reason you couldn’t just change the pronouns as you like.
Some our favorites are the Olivia books by Ian Falconer (which are a bit gendered, with the mommy and daddy in fairly typical roles) and Frederick by Leo Lionni. (Frederick does have a male lead, but I find the pro-art message quite unusual and beautiful, kind of the opposite of the typical ant vs. grasshopper story.)
We LOOOOOOVEEEE Frederick! Just read it for the first time last week!
And Then It’s Spring – beautiful illustrations, simple, lovely story, animal friends on every page
The Three Ninja Pigs – the girl pig saves the day! And does karate!
Boot & Shoe – story of friendship, funny, sweet
Just Ducks! – pretty watercolor, whimsical nonfiction all about ducks
Also, anything by Steve Jenkins. He does incredible nonfiction about animals and insects. And uses handmade paper collage to create lifelike pictures!
Thank You Bear
Good Luck Bear
Don’t Worry Bear
Hippos Go Berserk
These are some of the books that have worked the best at my storytime Internship. 🙂
Mine and my sister’s favorite was Lester & Clyde, by James H. Reece. It has an eco-friendly message, and is clever and lyrical with great illustrations. I can probably still quote it today, at 27 🙂
I totally recommend any of the “Mog the Forgetful Cat” series by Judith Kerr, and “The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark” by Jill Tomlinson. Both classics!
Anything by Bill Peet: http://www.amazon.com/Bill-Peet/e/B001H6TVC4/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1364256589&sr=1-1 . The stories are awesome and the illustrations are fun plus a lot of them have environmental themes. I’m 28 and I still think about some of his stories which were read to me as a child.
A Fairy Went A-Marketing by Rose Fylemen is beautiful. It has lots of hidden things for kids to find on each page. Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger is also gorgeous. Both are on Amazon.
Thanks again, everyone! I ordered my first stack and plan to come back to this list later for another round.
This was one of my favourite books growing up. I wish I knew where it was. I might buy another copy, just so I can giggle my way through it again. It’s all about archeologists from the year 4200 who find the lost continent of Usa. They discover a motel. It’s great fun, and really makes you think about how completely wrong we could be in our interpretation of ancient cultures.
I have found that books I enjoy reading are often not the ones my kids want to hear! I second the Mo Willems love (fun to read and adored by my kids) and a couple of others that fit the bill:
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
If I Built a Car by Chris van Dusen