My top five favorite illustrated children’s books

Since today is Children’s Book Day and illustrated children’s books are actually something that is pretty close to my heart, I thought I might take a few moments and put together a top 5- as in, the top five children’s books that have stuck with me long after my daughter has outgrown them (and at least one I picked up when she was no longer a child). I bent my own rules all over this list, but since I wrote the list and therefore wrote the rules, I’m going to allow it…this time. You can find each of these books on Amazon by clicking the pictures below. Thank you for using my affiliate links if you purchase – it’s greatly appreciated.

The Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein is one of those books that I remember fondly because it struck a nerve that was a little bit raw when I was raising a rather spirited young girl. His story about a very creative, very enthusiastic, and yes, a very interrupting chicken is very obviously meant to portray the sort of youngster that has problems waiting patiently and dare I say, sitting still? The love and understanding shared between the main characters, even though they are chickens? Still makes me smile. Also, the pictures are definitely fun.

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The Curious Garden by Peter Brown was a discovery made mostly because of another of his titles- that is incredibly different in tone.  Out of curiosity, I sought this book out one day and was pleasantly surprised to find a softer, modern version of the Lorax in this telling of what might happen if we concentrated more on nature and less on…well…. cities.  It also manages to laud curiosity and nurturance in subtle ways and is just charming as it could possibly be.  

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The second entry on this list by Peter Brown will forever be one of the funniest children’s books I’ve ever read –  as poor Lucille Beatrice Bear sets out to make a new friend, she manages to be just a little too much for just about everyone until someone finds her who thinks she’s pretty much perfect, and teaches her the best way to be is to be herself.  I actually still hold a clear mental picture of poring over this book with my daughter at bedtime – the illustrations are fun and complex with just the right about of hidden details to search for to keep the book entertaining for a long time.  The Amazon listing is even exceptional because it gives a behind-the-scenes look into Peter Brown’s illustration process, which tickled me when I got the book and tickles me still.  

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This next title is one that I discovered after Faith was admittedly too old to truly appreciate it anymore (yes, I still browse the children’s section in Barnes & Noble every once in awhile- I do honestly love children’s books!)  but it made me laugh out loud when I was sitting there trying to quietly read it.  There is something about the process of trying to make friends and having it go horribly wrong that obviously touches something deep inside me.  Those of you out there that make friends super easy?  You could easily sell me your secrets because I over identify with the awkward bears and T-Rexs who come on strong and yes, accidently eat their classmates.  (Disclaimer, I have never, in fact, eaten a classmate.  That being said, you wouldn’t be able to prove it either, would you?  So here we are, awkwardly pretending I don’t actually over identify with this poor unfortunate preschool T-Rex.)  

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My final choice for this list is where I really bent the rules.  It’s actually a three book set- and it holds a place of prominence on my shelves at the SheHive.  The What You Do Matters box set by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom includes What Do You Do With an Idea?, What Do You Do With a Problem?, and What Do You Do With a Chance? and are equally inspiring for entrepreneurs and young adults as they are aspirational and educational for children.  Beautiful soft illustrations and gold foil makes this one of my favorite ways to remind myself that small thoughts matter and problems are easier than they first appear to solve.  As a bonus mention, the absolutely gorgeous Maybe: A Story About the Endless Potential in All of Us by the same author with Gabriella Barouch as illustrator is also a treat for all ages. 

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Do you have a favorite illustrated children’s book? What makes it your favorite? I have to admit that even as I draw this list to a close there are titles that are crowding into my head telling me they are MAD they were not also included- so obviously, these are just the top five that occurred to me first- that also brought a couple of stray friends along anyway. Just like Lucy the Bear and the Interrupting Chicken – I tried.

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