School Library Journal top 100 picture books

View all Best Picks for Boys book lists; This list was last updated on 11/11/2015
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You could argue that the first books a child encounters will influence how they read for the rest of their lives. Stretching the definition of what constitutes a “picture book” to include everything from board books to easy titles, the readers of School Library Journal voted on what they felt were their own individual Top Ten picture books of all time. Points were given for rank and order and counted accordingly. The result is a list of the Top 100 Picture Books for the 21st century. Check SLJ's website for more details. 

For more book recommendations, please check out New York Times® Best Sellers, Children's Book Recommendations or the complete list of Featured Book Lists and Award Winners

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Olivia
Have fun with Olivia...

-dressing up
-singing songs
-building sand castles
-napping (maybe)
-dancing
-painting on walls
-and -- whew! --

going to sleep at last.
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The Carrot Seed 60th Anniversary Edition

This book teaches the patience and technique of planting a seed and helping it grow. First published in 1945 and never out of print, this timeless combination of Ruth Krauss's simple text and Crockett Johnson's eloquent illustrations creates a triumphant and deeply satisfying story for readers of all ages.

When a little boy plants a carrot seed, everyone tells him it won't grow. But when you are very young, there are some things that you just know, and the little boy knows that one day a carrot will come up. So he waters his seed, and pulls the weeds, and he waits...

Supports the Common Core State Standards

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The Maggie B
A little girl's wish to sail for a day on a boat named for her " with someone nice for company " comes true.
release date: Jan 01, 2004
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Duck on a Bike
Caldecott Honor winner David Shannon applies his wonderful off-beat humor to the story of a duck who decides to try riding a bike--and loves it! Another young, funny book perfect for reading aloud.

One day down on the farm, Duck got a wild idea. "I bet I could ride a bike," he thought. He waddled over to where the boy parked his bike, climbed on and began to ride. At first he rode slowly and he wobbled a lot, but it was fun! Duck rode past Cow and waved to her. "Hello, Cow!" said Duck. "Moo," said Cow. But what she thought was, "A duck on a bike? That's the silliest thing I've ever seen!"
And so Duck rides past sheep, horse, and all the other barnyard animals. Suddenly, a group of kids ride by on their bikes and run into the farmhouse, leaving the bikes outside. Now ALL the animals can ride bikes, just like Duck!
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Where Is the Green Sheep? / Donde Esta La Oveja Verde?
Here is the blue sheep.
Ésta es la oveja azul.
But where is the green sheep?
¿Pero dónde está la oveja verde?
 
The search for the green sheep is on in this bilingual board book edition of the Australian author Mem Fox and the cartoonist Judy Horacek's delightful read-aloud Where Is the Green Sheep? Wee ones will learn concepts such as opposites and colors, but mostly they will cheer when the green sheep is finally discovered at the end. Each line is translated into Spanish directly below for easy comprehension.
Awards: ALA Notable Book (2005), Horn Book Fanfare Best Books of 2004, Child Magazine Best Book of the Year, 2004



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Ira Sleeps Over
Ira is thrilled to spend the night at Reggie's, until his sister raises the question of whether he should take his teddy bear.
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The Kissing Hand
School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester's fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary. Since its first publication in 1993, this heartwarming book has become a children's classic that has touched the lives of millions of children and their parents, especially at times of separation, whether starting school, entering daycare, or going to camp. It is widely used by kindergarten teachers on the first day of school. Stickers at the back will help children and their parents keep their Kissing Hand alive.
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The Mitten
"Grandmother knits snow-white mittens that Nikki takes on an adventure. Readers will enjoy the charm and humor in the portrayal of the animals as they make room for each newcomer in the mitten and sprawl in the snow after the big sneeze."
-The Horn Book
release date: Jan 01, 2005
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Traction Man Is Here!
Traction Man—wearing combat boots, battle pants, and his warfare shirt—comes in a box, but very quickly finds the way into the imagination of his lucky boy owner. This superhero searches for the Lost Wreck of the Sieve as the boy makes a game of doing the dishes, and later in the bathtub, he conquers the Mysterious Toes that are stealing his pet, the brave little Scrubbing Brush. These are just a few of the action-packed adventures played out by the boy and his new toy that may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but can vanquish all manner of villains lurking around the house. Mini Grey's story in words and pictures is an irresistible invitation to the private world of a child's play.

Praise for The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-Be:

“A rib-tickling U.S. debut for Grey, with plenty of sight gags to complement the chatty narrative.”—Kirkus Reviews

The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-Be delivers an entertaining spin and a great deal of visual wit.”—The Horn Book
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The Gardener

By the author-and-illustrator team of the bestselling The Library

Lydia Grace Finch brings a suitcase full of seeds to the big gray city, where she goes to stay with her Uncle Jim, a cantankerous baker. There she initiates a gradual transformation, bit by bit brightening the shop and bringing smiles to customers' faces with the flowers she grows. But it is in a secret place that Lydia Grace works on her masterpiece -- an ambitious rooftop garden -- which she hopes will make even Uncle Jim smile. Sarah Stewart introduces readers to an engaging and determined young heroine, whose story is told through letters written home, while David Small's illustrations beautifully evoke the Depression-era setting.

The Gardener is a 1997 New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year and a 1998 Caldecott Honor Book.

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The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
The entire book, with its unconventional page arrangement and eclectic, frenetic mix of text and picures, is a spoof on the art of book design and the art of the fairy tale. The individual tales, such as he Really Ugly Ducklingand ittle Red Running Shorts,can be extracted for telling aloud, with great success. Another masterpiece from the team that created The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!
-Horn Book
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Arnie, the Doughnut

A deliciously imaginative story about friendship―from the author / illustrator of The Scrambled States of America.

Arnie was fascinated as he watched the customers stream into the bakery. One by one, doughnuts were chosen, placed in paper bags, and whisked away with their new owners. Some went by the dozen in giant boxes.
"Good-bye!" Arnie yelled to each doughnut. "Have a good trip!"
"This is so exciting!" Arnie beamed. "I wonder who will choose ME?"

At first glance, Arnie looks like an average doughnut―round, cakey, with a hole in the middle, iced and sprinkled. He was made by one of the best bakeries in town, and admittedly his sprinkles are candy-colored. Still, a doughnut is just a doughnut, right?

WRONG! Not if Arnie has anything to say about it. And, for a doughnut, he sure seems to have an awful lot to say. Can Arnie change the fate of all doughnuts―or at least have a hand in his own future? Well, you'll just have to read this funny story and find out for yourself.

Arnie, the Doughnut is a 2004 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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Tikki Tikki Tembo

Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-
chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo!

Three decades and more than one million copies later children still love hearing about the boy with the long name who fell down the well. Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent's classic re-creation of an ancient Chinese folktale has hooked legions of children, teachers, and parents, who return, generation after generation, to learn about the danger of having such an honorable name as Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo.

Tikki Tikki Tembo is the winner of the 1968 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Picture Books.

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No, David!

The Caldecott Honor-winning classic by bestselling picture-book creator David Shannon!

When David Shannon was five years old, he wrote and illustrated his first book. On every page were these words: NO, DAVID! . . . and a picture of David doing things he was not supposed to do.
   Now David is all grown up. But some things never change. . . .

Over fifteen years after its initial publication, NO, DAVID! remains a perennial household favorite, delighting children, parents, and teachers alike. David is a beloved character, whose unabashed good humor, mischievous smile, and laughter-inducing antics underline the love parents have for their children--even when they misbehave.

release date: Jan 01, 2009
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My Lucky Day
When a delicious-looking piglet knocks on Mr. Fox's door "accidentally," the fox can hardly believe his good luck. It's not every day that dinner just shows up on your doorstep. It must be his lucky day! Or is it?

Before Mr. Fox can say grace, the piglet has manipulated him into giving him a fabulously tasty meal, the full spa treatment (with bath and massage), and . . . freedom.

In a funny trickster tale of her own, Kasza keeps readers guessing until the surprise ending when they'll realize it was piglet's lucky day all along.

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The Paper Bag Princess
This bestselling modern classic features a princess who rescues a very snooty—and ungrateful—prince.
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The Giving Tree

'Once there was a tree...and she loved a little boy.'

So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.

Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk...and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave.

This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another's capacity to love in return.

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Not a Box

A box is just a box . . . unless it's not a box. From mountain to rocket ship, a small rabbit shows that a box will go as far as the imagination allows.

Inspired by a memory of sitting in a box on her driveway with her sister, Antoinette Portis captures the thrill when pretend feels so real that it actually becomes real—when the imagination takes over and inside a cardboard box, a child is transported to a world where anything is possible.

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Bear Snores On
Bear's cave fills with animal friends as he sleeps in this classic book from New York Times bestselling team of Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman.

In a cave in the woods,
in his deep, dark lair,
through the long, cold winter
sleeps a great brown bear.


One by one, a whole host of different animals and birds find their way out of the cold and into Bear's cave to warm up. But even after the tea has been brewed and the corn has been popped, Bear just snores on!

See what happens when he finally wakes up and finds his cave full of uninvited guests—all of them having a party without him!
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A Visitor for Bear
Cheery persistence wears down a curmudgeonly bear in a wry comedy of manners that ends in a most unlikely friendship.

Bear is quite sure he doesn't like visitors. He even has a sign. So when a mouse taps on his door one day, Bear tells him to leave. But when Bear goes to the cupboard to get a bowl, there is the mouse — small and gray and bright-eyed. In this slapstick tale that begs to be read aloud, all Bear wants is to eat his breakfast in peace, but the mouse — who keeps popping up in the most unexpected places — just won't go away!
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Fortunately
Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party.
Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away.
Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane.
Unfortunately, the motor exploded.
Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane.
Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute.
What else could go wrong as Ned tries to get to the party? Readers will cheer as Ned's luck turns from good to bad to good again, while clever illustrations tell the story of his wacky adventure and narrow escapes.
Madeline
The lively adventures of the twelve famous little girls and Genevieve, the dog, take us once more to Bemelmans' unique and delightful Paris.
release date: Mar 15, 1991
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Pierre
Pierre's 'I don't care!' intrigues a hungry lion. 'A story with a moral air about Pierre, who learned to care.'

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Zoom at Sea
This fanciful nautical adventure stars a winsome cat named Zoom who stays indoors paddling in the sink or sailing in the bathtub all night when other self-respecting cats are out mousing and howling at the moon. One day Zoom finds in his Uncle Roy's diary a map of the sea and how to get there, which leads him to the huge house of the beautiful Maria. When, with the turn of a large wheel, mysterious Maria launches him on a wonderful sea voyage, the first of Zoom's adventures begins.
release date: Jan 01, 2006
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Flotsam
A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam - anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there's no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share ...and to keep.
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Eloise
It's Eloise's sixtieth birthday—though she's still not a day over six. Celebrate with a beautifully illustrated hardcover edition of the original classic storybook with gobs of bonus material!

Eloise is a very special little girl who lives at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. She may not be pretty yet, but she's definitely already a real person. She loves learning about people who aren't boring. Take Eloise home with you and she'll introduce you to life at The Plaza. You'll be glad you did!

In the front of this book we have printed the original Eloise story and pictures, and in the back of it there are sketches and stories by Mr. Hilary Knight (the illustrator), photographs of Miss Kay Thompson when she was young and fabulous and rather like Eloise, and absolutely loads of information that you simply can't can't can't get anywhere else. Here's the thing: Whether you are just about to fall in love with Eloise or have already baked her a cake, you ought to have this book. (Charge it please and thank you very much.)
release date: Oct 01, 1985
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Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
The beloved, bestselling tale of edible weather is brought to life!

If food dropped like rain from the sky, wouldn't it be marvelous! Or would it? It could, after all, be messy. And you'd have no choice. What if you didn't like what fell? Or what if too much came? Have you ever thought of what it might be like to be squashed flat by a pancake?
release date: Sep 27, 2011
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I Want My Hat Back
A New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2011!

A picture-book delight by a rising talent tells a cumulative tale with a mischievous twist.


The bear's hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear's memory and renews his search with a vengeance. Told completely in dialogue, this delicious take on the classic repetitive tale plays out in sly illustrations laced with visual humor-- and winks at the reader with a wry irreverence that will have kids of all ages thrilled to be in on the joke.
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May I Bring a Friend?
Winner of the Caldecott Medal
One day, a small boy receives a very special invitation -- the King and the Queen have invited him to the castle for tea. He accepts, with one question: "May I bring a friend?"
"Any friend of our friend is welcome her," says the King. But their guest's friend turns out to be someone they never expected!
Beatrice Schenk de Regniers's rhythmic text and the fantastical, jewellike artwork of Beni Montresor have made this book a favorite for more than twenty-five years.
release date: Jan 01, 1995
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But Not the Hippopotamus
A shy hippo makes a big impact in this Sandra Boynton classic.

Serious silliness for all ages. Artist Sandra Boynton is back and better than ever with completely redrawn versions of her multi-million selling board books. These whimsical and hilarious books, featuring nontraditional texts and her famous animal characters, have been printed on thick board pages, and are sure to educate and entertain children of all ages.
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