Children's Reading

Randi's Recommended Picture Books

reading

A Note About Our Best Children’s Picture Books List

Children’s picture books offer a fantastic opportunity to help children learn about the world around them. With zillions to choose from, we believe it is important to critically read all books prior to sharing them with your child or classroom, even though these books are expressly written for young audiences. Children’s picture books can be quite impactful for a child, both positively and negatively, especially when read over and over again. Ironically, so many children’s picture books-even the most popular, famous, and with many awards given-often send underlying messages or express themes that can have a not-so-positive impact on a child’s behavior!
When the content in a children’s picture book does not match your value system or approach and you choose to read it with your child or class, it is worthwhile to share your views with them. This teaches children that just because a book says something, it does not mean it is the correct approach for everyone. Additionally, this process helps young children develop their own critical thinking and experience the value of making their own assessments. These are essential skills to learn as readers and for life!

Our Best Children’s Books List includes books with storylines that:

✓ are fun, engaging, and validating to a child’s varied experiences
✓ provide opportunities for social and emotional learning
✓ help children discover healthier alternatives to managing typical childhood challenges and behaviors
✓ facilitate relationship building skills
✓ are great springboards for rich discussion
✓ promote greater learning opportunities between the scores of impressionable and developing young children and the grown-ups in their lives
Please note that this list does not include age recommendations for each book, because the content is evaluated for social and emotional learning, and not specific reading levels. These books can be appropriate for a slightly larger range in age for this purpose.
P.S If you’ve read a children’s picture book that you believe meets our criteria, please send us an email to info@zakandnat.com with your suggestions! We are always searching for new titles to include!
☺ Happy Reading! - Zak & Nat

Best Children’s Picture Book List

ABC I Like Me

by Nancy Carlson-Using the ABC to build self-esteem makes this book of positive messages and bright animal illustrations one worth having.

Are Pirates Polite?

by Corinne Demas & Artemis Roehrig- A clever book that takes a humorous spin on manners with lively illustrations. Great conversation starter, as the book illustrates that manners are not something magical. Manners are needed for daily occurrences, regardless of whether one is a pirate or not!

Beautiful Hands

by Kathryn Otoshi & Bret Baumgarten- An aesthetically artistic and stunning book about the amazing things we can physically do with our hands, especially when they are used for connecting and “touching” those around us.

Beautiful Oops; A Little Bit of Oomph

by Barney Saltzberg- Fun and interactive books that share the value of making mistakes and finding the opportunities that arise as a result. Confidence building content that celebrates creativity.

Because of You

by B.G. Hennessy- The empowering text and illustrations beautifully share how each child/person has potential and can make a difference in their midst through kindness, understanding, and generosity. By doing so, the author shares that we can have a positive impact on relationships and make the world a better place.

Best Behavior Series

by Elizabeth Verdick- Board book series about typical toddler behaviors and life experiences. Valuable strategies for how toddlers and grown-ups can approach these challenges are presented in balanced, simple, and rhyming text. Caregiver tips provided at the end of the books.

Carla’s Sandwich

by Debbie Herman- Easy to relate to story shares the benefits of being unique, creative, nice to others and the importance of standing up for yourself.

Corduroy Goes to School

by Don Freeman- A sweet and simple book for little ones starting preschool so they know the basics about what happens during the day.

Delilah D. at the Library

by Jeanne Willis- Captures the importance and power of a child’s imagination in a playful, visually unique, and appealing story.

Elephant & Piggie Series

by Mo Willems- One of the best picture book series out there for teaching many different valuable life lessons without overly focusing on negative/attention seeking behaviors. The simple text paired with playful, expressive illustrations, humorously and accurately reflect life’s joys, challenges, and some important lessons about friendship.

F is for Feelings

by G. Miller and L. Berger- One of the better books about feelings as it does not have anything listed in the cute A-Z format that is frightening or leading children to worry about something they may have never thought of (like being afraid of the dark). Illustrations/scenarios are child friendly and relatable for kids.

How Are You Peeling?

By Saxton Freymann & Joost Elffers- Uses unique photographs of various vegetables to depict feelings. Great as a springboard for talking about the variety of feelings we all experience.

I Love You All Day Long

by Francesca Rusackas- A useful book when preparing for separation with young children. The author captures great examples of how the mother loves her child all day long, even when they are not together.

I’m Gonna Like Me

by Jamie Lee Curtis & Laura Cornell- The playful text and realistic scenarios along with vivid illustrations make this book a great resource for some good doses of self-esteem boosts.

I’m Thankful Each Day, Let’s Be Thankful, Let’s Be Kind

by P.K. Hallinan- These board books illustrate how being kind and cultivating an attitude of gratitude is good for everyone.

Ish

by Peter Reynolds- This story is a great reminder that when it comes to creativity, perfection is not critical or even optimal. Feeling good about the process and the result is what really matters!

It’s Okay to be Different

by Todd Parr- Being tolerant of the differences of others and accepting of oneself are conveyed in this valuable, colorful story.

Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler

by Margery Cuyler- Although this book is quite wordy, and the font is small, the content playfully shows how kindness is cooler than being mean to one another, whether at home or at school. Great springboard for discussion.

Love the World; The Thankful Book

by Todd Parr- In the author’s trademark of bright and colorful illustrations, these titles share the little and big things we can be thankful for, the importance of appreciating oneself and others, being kind and respecting the world around us.

Lots of Feelings

by Shelley Rotner- Simple feelings are accompanied by expressive photographs of children showing those feelings. While the photos are a little outdated (2003), they do a good job of teaching what some feeling faces might look like, helping children to “read” and begin to identify another’s feelings.

Me: A Compendeum

by Wee Society- This remarkable fill-in journal for kids is a wonderful way for a child to share what makes them unique. The book is full of clever, simple pages for children to write and draw on using their creativity. Great self-esteem builder!

My Nose, Your Nose

by Melanie Walsh-A simple book about what makes us alike and what makes us unique. Nice book for teaching about tolerance of differences.

Not a Box

by Antoinette Portis- A simple tale that reflects how creativity doesn’t have to be fancy. Encourages unstructured play and using your imagination.

Oh, The Things You Can Do That Are Good for You! The Cat in the Hat Learning Library

by Tish Rabe- Fun way to understand what our bodies need and the importance of being responsible and learn how to take care of ourselves.

Once Upon a Vegetable

by P’nina Seplowitz- Exploring new things is not always so simple for kids, especially when it comes to vegetables! This story shares the value of trying something new and appreciating what you already have.

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes, I Love My White Shoes, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons; Pete the Cat and his Magic Sunglasses, Rock on Mom & Dad, Groovy Guide to Life

by James Dean- The energetic, blue musical cat named Pete, entertains readers through these picture books (we love to sing when we read these!) as he goes through life with determination. As you read the typical refrain in some of the books “Does Pete cry? Goodness no...” please keep the following in mind: We don’t want to communicate that kids should feel they cannot and should not ever cry when upset or frustrated etc. While crying is part of life, one can be upset without crying, one does not always have to cry when upset, and sometimes we may need to cry and still find a way to move forward. Great to have a conversation about this!

Something from Nothing

by Phoebe Gilman- In the “throw away” society of today we don’t always appreciate the value of fixing and repurposing something. This book conveys determination and creativity and brings us back to appreciating that not everything needs to be thrown out right away!

Sometimes You Get What You Want

by Lisa Brown & Meredith Gary- In this matter-of- fact book, the child-relatable scenarios utilized share that sometimes you get what you want, sometimes you don’t; that’s part of life. Arguments, deliberations and tantrums need not always be included!

The Big Umbrella

by Amy June Bates- A playful, simple, yet remarkable book, written by a mother and her young daughter. Using an umbrella as a metaphor, the text and illustrations convey the importance of kindness, being welcoming and inclusive to others. This book can serve as a great springboard for larger discussions!

The Crayon Box that Talked

by Shane DeRolf- What would happen if crayons talked? They might teach us about working things out instead of fighting. The value of learning about one another is conveyed through crayons, an familiar art supply that young children use all the time.

The Nice Book

by David Ezra Stein- This simple book shares some basics about being nice to one another. The author creates messy, expressive animal pairs to illustrate the appeal of being nice in a kid friendly way.

The Way I Act

by Steve Metzger- This book does a great job highlighting valued characteristics and related behaviors/actions that can help build relationships through social/emotional competency, kindness and connection.

We Can Get Along: A Child’s Book of Choices

by Lauren Murphy Payne- Conflicts are part of life and for young children, learning how to deal with them and understand their own needs and feelings, is not so easy. Using realistic examples, the author helps children learn about conflict, the choices one can make and the consequences that can result. Included in the back of the book are a variety of very helpful resources for adults to help children manage conflict in healthier ways.

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?

by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page– Amazing facts and interesting illustrations encourages readers to learn about all the cool things that make animals unique despite their differences. Same holds true for people too!

What if Everybody Did That?

by Ellen Javerick- Helps kids gain perspective about the significant impact our actions can have if everyone was inconsiderate to our environment and those around us.

When Miles Got Mad, Miles is the Boss of His Body

by The Mother Company- Great discussion books with valuable storylines that help kids manage anger and personal safety. Helpful points for caregivers as well.

Wild About Books

by Judy Sierra- Fun read about the books animals might read. Teaches that everyone can enjoy reading with so many kinds of books available. We are reminded not only of the importance of reading, but also of writing, and taking care of our books.

Yippee-Yahoo! I am Going to School

by Randi Goldfarb- Helpful story that approaches separation anxiety with an honest and practical spin. An excellent resource to help little ones and adults work together to best manage the goodbye blues and challenges of separation anxiety.

You Can't Take a Balloon into The Metropolitan Museum

by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman & Robin Preiss Glasser- A wordless story means endless possibilities to confidently become your own storyteller. Adults and children alike can tell their own creative versions each and every time.

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It

by JoAnn Deak, PhD-This book does a great job of explaining how the brain works and how a child can help it grow. It shares the perspective of a growth mindset and the value of making mistakes and working hard. With this empowering approach, it is a valuable book to read!

For more information on Randi, please visit: Randi Goldfarb's page