5 Picture Books Every Library Needs

The Spectrum of Children’s Books

Not all picture books are created equal. There’s a spectrum of picture books, and each kind offers a unique benefit. 

This all starts with selecting the right books and reading them well.

Today I want to share with you 5 picture books that represent the different styles and types of picture books you should have in your home or school library. 

Fetch by Jorey Hurley

Interestingly, this book has very few words, but instead has large illustrations that asks the reader to create the story. However, the reason I recommend it is because it begs for a certain kind of engagement, one that allows for pauses, contemplation, and interaction. This promotes a kind of reading that is slow, thoughtful, and intentional. A kind of reading that allows for personal growth. I also love the way the book asks the adult to view the book the way the child does: primarily through engaging with the illustrations. Use this book as a way to create your own narrative. Name the dog, create the sound effects and emotions, and insert your own story.

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The Napping House by Audrey Wood

This book is the perfect reminder of something we often forget when reading to kids: before kids learn to read, they are oral learners. This book understands that. It is repetitive and patterned. Kids can easily engage with this book through their wonderful memories and through the book’s oral strategies. This was one of my daughter’s favorite books, and as a three-year-old, she is able to “read” this story to her younger brother because of its repetition and mnemonic devices.

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The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

This book is beautifully illustrated and has an almost poetic narrative style. What I love about this book is the way it clearly connects the illustrations and the text. The children follow along with this book easily and are able to make connections because of its simplistic style and partnership between the words and the images. Because of this, books like this can be a great tool in teaching children to pay attention to the relationship between the words and the pictures. This gets them ready to transition from picture books to books with more text and fewer images.

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The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone

I like to use this book as a way to grapple with the idea that a title character isn’t always the hero. I would challenge you to read this book and its ending as a kind of raw picture of greed. In a way, this book unexpectedly displays vices in all its characters, making it a great candidate for some thoughtful conversation and discussion. Folk tales are great for teaching specific kinds of lessons, and I’d encourage you to use them as conversation starters surrounding moral development.

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Tico and the Golden Wings by Leo Lionni

This book is beautiful, complex, and thoughtfully written. But one of my favorite aspects of this book happens on the first page. You’ll notice that on the first page, the book begins with a narrator who merely introduces the reader to Tico, but then this narrator takes a back seat and allows Tico to tell his story in his own words. In my mind, this is an act of generosity and one we would do well to emulate in our own lives. 

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Books with these kinds of intentional narrators often display positive attributes we can encourage the children to practice in their own lives. This style of writing also opens the children’s eyes to literary devices like narrators and other ways to tell stories besides the “once upon a time” format.

These 5 books represent the spectrum of picture books. From those with simple structure to those which leverage more complex literary tools. 

If you are interested in any of these books, I will put some affiliate links in the description, and as I record them, I will put all of my other recommendation videos in this playl