Pat Zietlow Miller | The Children’s Book Review | November 6, 2015
I bought picture books before I ever had children.
Piles and piles of picture books.
I read them myself, of course, reveling in each word. And, when my two daughters arrived, I read to them.
When Gwen and Sonia were small, my husband and I read them our favorites. As they got older, they each had favorites, as well.
This list is my best attempt at remembering the books all four of us liked. They are the books I remember from a very specific time in our lives. Some of us have strong personal favorites that do not appear on this list. And, there are amazing picture books published after my kids passed traditional picture book reading age. Those will not appear on this list either. I feel like writing formal apology letters to those authors whose works are, also, wonderful.
But … life is full of decisions and choices.
So, here are the five picture books I remember us loving the most.
Written by Michael Rosen
Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
This was the go-to book for our family when the girls were little. Our oldest was very concerned about one of the children having a muddy foot in the book. We always had to spend time on that page reassuring her that she’d go home and have a bath and be just fine. My husband also added a line of his own to the end when the bear walks off alone. Our girls would say it with him. I think they thought it was part of the book. My best memory of this book is when my youngest woke everyone up in the middle of the night crying. We all sat on the floor of her bedroom and recited this book from memory until she was calm and ready to go back to sleep.
Ages 2+ | Publisher: Aladin Paperbacks | 2003 (Reprint) | ISBN-13: 978-0689853494
Written and Illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
This is one of the first board books I ever bought. And it’s another my family can recite from memory. When I was fortunate enough to win an Ezra Jack Keats New Author Honor in 2014, my kids greeted the news by saying: “Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. His feet sank into the snow.” That, my friends, is the mark of a classic. And the collage art? Amazing.
Ages 2+ | Publisher: Puffin Books | 1976 (Reprint) | ISBN-13: 978-0140501827
Written and Illustrated by Diane Redfield Massie
We found this book at a church rummage sale. Our copy was kind of beat up, but that didn’t diminish our enjoyment of the story about a bunch of forest animals that work together to convince a wandering lion he does not want to sleep in their part of the forest. It gets bonus points for increasing all of our vocabularies by introducing us to peccaries, a pig-like mammal.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Weekly Reader Book Club Xerox Family Education Services | 1974
Written and Illustrated by William Steig
Even though I would never send my child out in a snowstorm to walk alone through the woods to deliver a dress to a castle, no matter how ill I was, I’ve always loved the girl power exhibited in the book. Irene is loving and committed and strong. There is no way she is not accomplishing her goal. And a line from this book has also worked its way into our family lexicon. “Go home, Irene! Go ho-o-ome!”
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Square Fish | 2011 (Reprint) | 978-0312564223
Poems selected by X. J. Kennedy and Dorothy M. Kennedy
Illustrated by Jane Dyer
I received this book from a librarian friend and instantly fell in love with all the poems. The art is exquisite, and it was the perfect read aloud, because my daughters had their favorites and loved to ask for “Queen Nefertiti” or “I Eat Kids Yum Yum!” or “Disobedience” (better known to me as “James, James, Morrison, Morrison, Weatherby George Dupree.”) And, the poems are the perfect mix of lengths, so you can pick and choose depending how close or far away bedtime is.
Ages 1-8 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | 1992 | 978-0316488891
About Pat Zietlow Miller
PAT ZIETLOW MILLER received an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor for Sophie’s Squash, her picture-book debut, which was published to four starred reviews and named a Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book. Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Visit the author at patzietlowmiller.com.
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller
Illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Publisher’s Synopsis: Celebrate food and family with this heartwarming Thanksgiving picture book. We will share the risen bread. / Our made-with-love Thanksgiving spread. / Grateful to be warm and fed. / We will share the bread. In this spirited ode to the holiday, set at the turn of the twentieth century, a large family works together to make their special meal. Mama prepares the turkey, Daddy tends the fire, Sister kneads, and Brother bastes. Everyone—from Grandma and Grandpa to the littlest baby—has a special job to do. Told in spare, rhythmic verse and lively illustrations, Sharing the Bread is a perfect read-aloud to celebrate the Thanksgiving tradition.
Ages 4–8 | Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books | 2015 | 978-0-307-98182-0
Pat Zietlow Miller, author of Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story, selected these five family favorites. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Family Favorites, Pat Zietlow Miller, Picture Books, Thankfulness, and Thanksgiving Books.