Best Children’s Books
One of the biggest joys of teaching is to introduce your students to the some of the best children’s books and authors that you loved as a child. In so doing, you get to open up a world of wonderful words and illustrations that will instill in them a lifelong joy of reading. But to rely solely on your memory of popular children’s book authors from your own school days would be a mistake – you’d miss out on so many of the best children’s books and amazing writers who have enriched the world of children’s literature since then.
To get you started on selecting the best children’s books for your classroom library or for your next story time, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite authors, along with some of their best children’s books. Happy reading!
Best Children’s Books: Authors
Jan Brett retells stories from around the world with vibrant, imaginative artwork that captures the spirit of the animals in her work. “The Mitten” is a classic, but we also love the vibrant rainforest animals in “The Umbrella.”
Gorgeous, colorful illustrations and catchy rhymes have made Eric Carle a friend of emerging readers everywhere. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” and “The Greedy Python” are just a few must-have by one of the best children’s literature authors.
The bright illustrations in Lucy Cousins’s “Maisy” books make learning about colors and numbers fun. We really like the lesser-known lemur in “Jazzy in the Jungle,” too. Lucy Cousins’s books feature interesting die-cuts and flaps for a great tactile experience for children of all reading levels.
Kids love cars and trucks, so it’s no wonder that Donald Crews’s books are always a big hit. The bold illustrations of transportation in “Truck” and “School Bus” are excellent, but we also like ” Ten Black Dots” for both math and art lessons.
With a sense of humor that both kids and adults love, Doreen Cronin provides sly lessons on civics in popular books like “Click Clack Moo” and “Duck for President.” You’ll also love ” M.O.M. (Mom Operating Manual)” as a go-to baby shower gift.
Kids love the bright colors and bold shapes of Lois Ehlert’s illustrations in “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” but don’t miss out on some of her stories from other cultures as well. “Moon Rope” and “Cuckoo” are available in both English and Spanish.
Good children’s authors also make non-fiction fun. Gail Gibbons has a collection of books about everything from animals to food. We particularly like “The Vegetables We Eat” and “The Fruits We Eat” to introduce lessons on nutrition and wellness.
The simple drawings and language of Eric Hill’s “Spot” books are a quiet antidote to a noise filled with bleeping, flashing screens. We’re particularly partial to the lesson in ” Spot Says Please,” but any book in the series is perfect for beginning readers.
Ezra Jack Keats
“The Snowy Day” was a landmark in children’s literature as it broke an unspoken color barrier in illustrations. Today’s popular children’s authors offer a rich multicultural cast of characters thanks to Ezra Jack Keats. Try “John Henry” for an outstanding read-aloud.
Cut-paper illustrations and stories of memorable animals make Leo Lionni books wonderful additions to your classroom library. “Frederick” is the story of a mouse with an unusual gift to share; our other favorite is “An Extraordinary Egg.”
“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” is a classic, but you can follow up with a whole slew of books by Laura Numeroff as well. We love her latest, too: “Raising a Hero” is about a boy training a puppy to be a helper dog for someone with disabilities.
Naughty Max is a breath of fresh air in “Where the Wild Things Are,” but Maurice Sendak’s creative takes on misbehaving children can also be seen in “Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue.” It’s the perfect book to pull out whenever someone says “I don’t care!”
No list of children’s books and authors would be complete without including the timeless works of Dr. Seuss. His imaginative illustrations and unforgettable rhymes are always a hit. If you’re worried that your students have already heard them all, try “The Sneetches and Other Stories.”
The best children’s authors know how how much children relate to animals, and Rosemary Wells uses mice, bunnies, cats and more to spectacular effect. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but we’ll try: “Read to Your Bunny” and her Max and Ruby books are outstanding, as are her Mother Goose illustrations.
Mo Willems has a sense of humor that kids love, even while they’re learning lessons about being polite and helpful. The Elephant and Piggie series is great for classroom read-alouds; if you have kids of your own, you’ll love “Knufflebunny: A Cautionary Tale.”