I read hundreds of picture books to my kids, from the time they were born until they became independent readers. Some of them were plain boring. Others were okay, but forgettable. A select few stood out from the crowd. Below is a list of my top five picture book writers/illustrators.
Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Berenstain Bears books address many issues kids face. As a mother of three, I was always curious to see how Mama Bear would deal with each situation. I read it as much for my kids' enjoyment as for my own, discovering some parenting tips along the way. The books are written and illustrated by a couple, Stan and Jan, who obviously know a thing or two about parenting, having raised two sons. Visit their website for more information, videos, and fun games for kids.
The illustrations in Jan Brett's books fascinate me. In some of her books, each page has a main picture illustrating the main story, and a side picture giving clues of what's coming next or showing a side story. In her books, she re-tells European folk tales in an engaging way. I especially like her Christmas books, some about trolls, other about reindeer or polar bears. I guess I'm not the only one who likes her. According to her website, she has over thirty-five million books in print.
I absolutely love the way this author takes a familiar story and gives it a unique twist. In A Mother for Choco, I was expecting to read the typical "Are you my mommy" book where the baby bird finds Mama Bird at the end, but I was pleasantly surprised by its different, heartwarming ending. I won't give it away. It's worth reading. The Dog Who Cried Wolf is also one of my favorites from Keiko Kasza. Visit her website for a complete list of her books.
Helen Lester (author) / Lynn Munsinger (illustrator)
This book made me laugh, and so did many of Helen Lester's books, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. What a great team! The pictures complement the story perfectly. They are known for their Tacky the Penguin series, which my kids and I also read and loved. But Me First is the best of all, to my opinion. Here is more information about both the author and the illustrator.
Things aren't always what they seem in these intriguing books filled with fun pictures of everyday objects. Parents can identify familiar toys from their childhood, while kids have fun looking for specific items hidden somewhere in the picture. We spent hours scrutinizing these images, challenging each other to find certain things and just enjoying the wonderful details. Some books also contain optical illusions, which always fascinate me. Unlike other picture books, these will keep everyone, big and small, entertained for hours. Walter Wick reveals some of his picture secrets on his website.
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