This year I have many, many children under the age of 4 to buy books for: Seb, Maeve, Gabriel, Eliana, Madison, Lincoln, the list goes on and on! As such, I’ve been starting to work on curating a picture book list that includes titles that are gorgeously illustrated, fun and easy to read aloud, and can be enjoyed and appreciated by kids and adults alike!
The Franklin and Luna series is by far my favorite picture book series. Franklin, the dragon, and his best friend Luna, the little girl, meet first in Franklin’s Flying Bookshop when Franklin is trying to make a friend (being a dragon, people tend to be scared of him). They then go on to try to find Franklin’s family in Franklin and Luna Go to the Moon, and in Franklin and Luna’s Book of Fairy Tales, a surprise birthday party, and many of their friends, are involved in a storybook based adventure!
Lucy the mouse is one of my favorite picture book characters. She loves winter, ice skating, and baking, all things that I myself enjoy! Full of some puns and lots of fun, Lucy and her friends have a great time in both books in this adorable series.
Sleeping Bear Press has countless books in their alphabet series, but these are just two of my favorites. Each book has a particular theme (in these cases ice hockey and books) and there is a poem for each letter (about the length of a Shel Silverstein poem). They’re great books to read a little bit at a time before bed, or for letter learning as kids get older. There’re quite a few words in each one, and lots of beautiful illustrations!
For our nonfiction picture book offerings, I really enjoy Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos’ children’s biographies. My favorites are Amelia Earhart and Marie Curie, but there are about 20 in the series so far. Each is obviously a very child-friendly account of the real person’s life, but a similar style of book started my lifelong love of Amelia Earhart and female aviators about 28 years ago, so it never hurts to introduce children to potential role models early in life.
The How to Catch series is a perennial bestselling set of books at the store and the Dragon and Unicorn ones are definitely my favorites (let’s be honest, we all know how much I just love dragons). They take a bit more concentration to read and are best suited to lap reading as the words meander a bit around the page. The illustrations are highly colorful and offer high contrast, as well as an entertaining story!
I’ve recommended all series here instead of stand-alones because I’ve heard from multiple parents at the store how tired they are of reading the same picture book over and over for months. With each of these, there are many options, all very similar, but not quite so repeatitive!
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through BookShop or your local independent, in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon.