100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know

View all Best Recommendations for Kids book lists; This list was last updated on 7/30/2013
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Prepared by the Office of Children's Services at the New York Public Library.

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Mr. Gumpy's Outing

Mr. Gumpy lives by a river. One sunny day he decides to take a ride in his small boat.

It is such a perfect idea, for such a perfect summer day, that he soon has company: first the children, then the rabbit, the cat, the dog, the pig, the sheep, the chickens, and still others until-- Mr. Gumpy's outing comes to an inevitable but not unhappy, conclusion.

With Mr. Gumpy's Outing, John Burningham became the first artist ever to win England's Kate Greenaway Medal twice. In America, the book was a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner and an American Library Association Notable Children's Book of 1971.

"Come for a ride another day," says Mr. Gumpy at the book's end. And young readers will return again and again to this sprightly story with its clever, captivating illustrations that reflect the sunlit quality of a lazy summer afternoon.

Winner of the 1972 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Picture Books
An ALA Notable Children's Book
Winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal
A 1971 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children's Book
A Child Study Association Children's Book of the Year
A Library of Congress Children's Book of the Year

release date: Aug 20, 2007
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Miss Nelson is Missing! Book & CD (Read Along Book & CD)

The kids in Room 207 were misbehaving again. Spitballs stuck to the ceiling. Paper planes whizzing through the air. They were the worst-behaved class in the whole school.

So begins this quirky classic, first published in 1977 and still relevant today as a lighthearted reminder to show our appreciation to those we value. The students don't proffer a shred of respect for their good-natured teacher Miss Nelson, but when the witchy substitute Miss Viola Swamp appears on the scene, they start to regret their own wicked ways. James Marshall's scritchy, cartoonish full-color ink and wash illustrations are hilarious. A back-to-school perennial!

release date: Jan 01, 1988
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Millions of Cats
Once upon a time there was an old man and an old woman who were very lonely. They decided to get a cat, but when the old man went out searching, he found not one cat, but millions and billions and trillions of cats! Unable to decide which one would be the best pet, he brought them all home. How the old couple came to have just one cat to call their own is a classic tale that has been loved for generations. Winner of a Newbery Honor, this collector's edition—featuring a heavy interior stock, spot gloss and embossing on the cover, and a thread-sewn binding—will bring this beloved tale to a whole new generation of readers.
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Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
A modern classic that no child should miss. Since it was first published in 1939, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel has delighted generations of children. Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers -- the very symbol of industrial America. But with progress come new machines, and soon the inseparable duo are out of work. Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig in a week, and the two have one last chance to prove it and save Mary Anne from the scrap heap. What happens next in the small town of Popperville is a testament to their friendship, and to old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity.
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Martha Speaks
Six original Martha Speaks books now in a paper-over-board treasury collection.

Join Martha on all of her original adventures as she exercises her unique gift of gab in a 20th anniversary six-book collection. This treasury features six full-length classic picture books—Martha Speaks, Martha Calling, Martha Blah Blah, Martha Walks the Dog, Martha and Skits, and Perfectly Martha. Martha's humor and loyalty remind us why we love dogs and what more they might teach us if only they could speak! Includes a special introduction by the author. Sheets of colorful stickers make this an irresistible gift and value—sold separately the books would total over forty dollars!
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The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

The story of a daring tightrope walk between skyscrapers, as seen in Robert Zemeckis' The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

In 1974, French aerialist Philippe Petit threw a tightrope between the two towers of the World Trade Center and spent an hour walking, dancing, and performing high-wire tricks a quarter mile in the sky. This picture book captures the poetry and magic of the event with a poetry of its own: lyrical words and lovely paintings that present the detail, daring, and--in two dramatic foldout spreads-- the vertiginous drama of Petit's feat.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers is the winner of the 2004 Caldecott Medal, the winner of the 2004 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Picture Books, and the winner of the 2006 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children's Video.

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Mama Cat Has Three Kittens

Some kittens march to the beat of a different drummer.

Mama Cat has three kittens, Fluffy, Skinny, and Boris. Where Mama Cat leads, Fluffy and Skinny follow. But what about Boris-- will he ever stop napping and join the fun?

Young children will love Mama Cat and her three kittens. They'll also enjoy looking for three other creatures hidden in every scene. But they'll have to count carefully -- Mama Mouse has a surprise.

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release date: Jan 11, 2011
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Maisy Goes Swimming
Kids go crazy for Maisy's lift-the-flap books! Two of Lucy Cousins's very first Maisy books are now reissued by Candlewick in a bold new design.

At the swimming pool, Maisy takes off her blue hat and scarf, her red coat, her gray cardigan, her green pants, her brown boots, her purple T-shirt, and her yellow socks. Whew! Now she can put on her multicolored swimsuit and go for a swim. Faucets turn, doors open, and clothes go up and down in this hands-on story about a favorite childhood pastime.
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Madeline
A Caldecott Honor Book

Madeline truly needs no introduction. An enduring classic, Madeline continues to enchant readers more than seventy years after its first publication.

Nothing frightens Madeline—not tigers, not mice, not even getting sick. To Madeline, a trip to the hospital is a grand adventure.
release date: Jan 01, 1997
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Machines at Work

Byron Barton's classic book about a busy day at the construction site is perfect for fans of Richard Scarry and Tom Lichtenheld!

Rhythmic text and bold, graphic illustrations convey all the energy and excitement of the day while workers use a variety of machines to knock down a building and begin constructing a new one. Young readers will love learning the names of the machines while seeing them at work.

Supports the Common Core State Standards.

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Mabela the Clever
Mabela may be the smallest mouse in the village, but her father has taught her to be clever. And this cleverness comes in handy when the cat comes, inviting everyone to join the secret Cat Society.
release date: Mar 06, 2012
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Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Storybook Treasury
Every home should have a crocodile!

Splish, splash. Over fifty years ago, the Primms moved into the house on East 88th street and found a crocodile soaking in the bathtub. Since then, Lyle has won the hearts of all he meets. This anniversary collection features an introduction by Bernard Waber, Lyle's creator, an MP3 download of Mr.Waber reading Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, and four complete books:

The House on East 88th Street

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Lyle and the Birthday Party

Lyle Walks the Dogs

release date: Apr 01, 1996
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Lon Po Po
"Not for the faint-hearted, Lon Po Po (Grandmother Wold), is a tale of a menacing danger and courage....(Young's) command of page composition and his sensitive use of color give the book a visual force that matches the strength of the story and stands as one of the illustrator's best efforts." --Booklist"Absolutely splendid." -- Kirkuse Reviews. "An extraordinary and powerful book." -- Publisher's Weekly
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The Little Red Hen
The legendary, lovable little red hen, famous for her industriousness and independent spirit, returns with more verve than ever in Margot Zemach's interpretation of the classic story. Though small in stature, the little red hen comes through loud and clear when she asks her friends the goose, the cat, and the pig: "Who will plant this wheat?" When they reply "Not I!" our sturdy heroine, assisted by her brood of chicks, sets about planting the wheat herself.
At each step along the way--harvesting, threshing, taking the grain to the mill--the little red hen's lazy friends refuse to lift hoof, paw, or wing to help. But when her efforts yield a warm, fragrant loaf of bread, the little red hen is glad to say: "Now I'm going to eat it myself!"
release date: Jan 01, 1992
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The Line Up Book
"Lunch!" Sam heard his mother calling. But Sam was very busy. "Just a minute," he called back. Sam wasn't ready in a minute. Sam's mother was about to lose her patience, but when she saw what Sam had been doing, all was forgiven.

An ingenous first picture book with bold, brilliant illustrations.
release date: May 01, 2001
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Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

Lilly loves everything about school, especially her cool teacher, Mr. Slinger. But when Lilly brings her purple plastic purse and its treasures to school and can't wait until sharing time, Mr. Slinger confiscates her prized possessions. Lilly's fury leads to revenge and then to remorse and she sets out to make amends.

Lilly, the star of Chester's Way and Julius, the Baby of the World, is back. And this time she has her name in the title - something she's wanted all along. If you thought Lilly was funny before, you are in for a treat. So hurry up and start reading. Lilly can't wait for you to find out more about her.

release date: Jan 01, 2004
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Kitten's First Full Moon

The nationally bestselling picture book about a kitten, the moon, and a bowl of milk, written by the celebrated author and illustrator Kevin Henkes, was awarded a Caldecott Medal.

From one of the most celebrated and beloved picture book creators working in the field today comes a memorable new character and a suspenseful adventure just right for reading and sharing at home and in the classroom. It is Kitten's first full moon, and when she sees it she thinks it is a bowl of milk in the sky. And she wants it. Does she get it? Well, no . . . and yes. What a night!

A brief text, large type, and luminescent pictures play second fiddle to the star of this classic picture book—brave, sweet and lucky Kitten! "Henkes's text, reminiscent of Margaret Wise Brown's work in the elemental words, rhythms, and appealing sounds, tells a warm, humorous story that's beautifully extended in his shimmering, gray-toned artwork."—ALA Booklist

Winner of the Caldecott Medal, an ALA Notable Book, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book, and winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award

Supports the Common Core State Standards

release date: Jan 01, 1997
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Julius
When Maya's grandfather comes for a visit, he brings a surprise in a crate--something, he says, to teach her fun and sharing. Maya hopes it's a horse or a big brother. But instead it's Julius, a big, cool pig. Maya's parents see Julius as a slob, but Maya herself sees another Julius altogether. She sees a playmate, a protector, and sharer in all that's magical and wild. Full color.
release date: Dec 01, 1999
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John Henry
John Henry is stronger than ten men, and can dig through a mountain faster than a steam drill. Julius Lester's folksy retelling of a popular African-American folk ballad has warmth, tall tale humor, and boundless energy. Jerry Pinkney illustrates the story with "rich colors borrowed from the rocks and the earth, so beautiful that they summon their own share of smiles and tears" (Booklist).
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It Could Always Be Worse

Once upon a time a poor unfortunate man lived with his mother, his wife, and his six children in a one-room hut.

Because they were so crowded, the children often fought and the man and his wife argued. When the poor man was unable to stand it any longer, he ran to the Rabbi for help.

As he follows the Rabbi's unlikely advice, the poor man's life goes from bad to worse, with increasingly uproarious results. In his little hut, silly calamity follows foolish catastrophe, all memorably depicted in full-color illustrations that are both funnier and lovelier than any this distinguished artist has done in the past.

It Could Always Be Worse is a 1977 New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year and Outstanding Book of the Year, and a 1978 Caldecott Honor Book.

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If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (If You Give...)

Celebrate the 30th anniversary of the award-winning If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, one of the most beloved children's books of all time, from the #1 New York Times bestselling team Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond.

This book is a great first introduction to Mouse, the star of the If You Give series and a perennial favorite among children. And with its spare, rhythmic text and circular tale, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is perfect for beginning readers and story time!

If a hungry little mouse shows up on your doorstep, you might want to give him a cookie. And if you give him a cookie, he'll ask for a glass of milk. He'll want to look in a mirror to make sure he doesn't have a milk mustache, and then he'll ask for a pair of scissors to give himself a trim....

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts

release date: Jan 01, 2004
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I Kissed the Baby!
Finally -- the perfect first book for baby is available in board!

"I saw the baby!
Did you see the baby?"
"Yes! I saw the baby, the teeny weeny thing."

It's so exciting! News of the baby is buzzing from animal to animal, with each one -- fish, bird, squirrel, insect, frog -- boasting of seeing, feeding, singing to, tickling, and kissing the tiny little thing. With bold, graphic black-and-white illustrations, Mary Murphy's simple, singsong story captures the giddy commotion that only a baby can bring.

"An animal cast so elated that they seem on the verge of jumping into readers' laps. . . . The high-contrast pictures and exclamatory text are guaranteed eye and ear magnets for the littlest ones." -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)
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How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?
A playful peek into the homes of dinosaur babies and their parents at bedtime. 'How does a dinosaur say good night when Papa comes in to turn off the light? Does a dinosaur slam his tail and pout? Does he throw his teddy bear all about?' Most certainly not! Dinosaurs give their mums and dads big hugs and kisses, tuck their tails in and whisper, 'Good night!' Brimming with humour and familiar good-night antics, here is a playful peek into the homes of dinosaur children and their parents at bedtime. Mark Teague uses a variety of perspectives in his dramatic, full-page pictures of tyrannosaurus rexes, triceratopses, and pteranodons.
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Horton Hatches the Egg
Meet Horton the elephant, one of the most commendable heroes in children's books.
“I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. . . .
An elephant's faithful, one hundred per cent!”
Horton is kind and trustworthy, but unfortunately, the lazy bird Mayzie takes advantage of his good nature when she leaves Horton to watch her unhatched egg. Told with Dr. Seuss's signature rhymes and trademark illustrations, this is a tale that will be enjoyed over and over, by reader and listener alike. And don't miss another delightful tale about this beloved pachyderm: Horton Hears a Who!
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Henry Hikes to Fitchburg
Inspired by a passage from Henry David Thoreau's WALDEN, this wonderfully appealing story follows two friends who have very different approaches to life. When the two agree to meet one evening in Fitchburg, which is thirty miles away, each decides to get there in his own way and have surprisingly different days.
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Harry the Dirty Dog

Harry is a white dog with black spots who loves everything . . . except baths. So one day before bath time, Harry runs away. He plays outside all day long, digging and sliding in everything from garden soil to pavement tar. By the time he returns home, Harry is so dirty he looks like a black dog with white spots. His family doesn't even recognize him!

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Harold and the Purple Crayon

Share this timeless classic with a new generation of readers!

"One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight."

Armed only with an oversized purple crayon, young Harold draws himself a landscape full of wonder and excitement.

Full of funny twists and surprises, this joyful story shows just how far your imagination can take you. Harold and the Purple Crayon has delighted readers of all ages since 1955.

release date: Oct 27, 2008
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Grandfather's Journey
Lyrical, breathtaking, splendid—words used to describe Allen Say's Grandfather's Journey when it was first published. At once deeply personal yet expressing universally held emotions, this tale of one man's love for two countries and his constant desire to be in both places captured readers' attention and hearts. Winner of the 1994 Caldecott Medal, it remains as historically relevant and emotionally engaging as ever.
release date: Mar 06, 2012
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Gossie and Friends
Take a romp around the barnyard with Gossie and her friends. This charming set
includes five unabridged chunky board books and two double-sided puzzle tiles that
are just right for the littlest gosling fans. It's all packaged in a beautiful lidded gift box
featuring Dunrea's sweet, seasonal artwork that is a keepsake in and of itself. Fans of
Gossie & Friends will covet this lovely box and the treasures inside! For ages 18 months and up.
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