Classic Children’s Books

Photo Credit: Melanie Holtsman (
Photo Credit: Melanie Holtsman (

by stef tousignant.

You just started a new part-time gig and you’re getting ready for naptime. The three-year-old brings you a towering pile of books, hoping to get you to read every single one and thereby delaying the inevitable dream world awaiting her. You agree to read two books, and as you pick up the first one in the pile you notice an all too familiar title: Good Night Moon. After reading it with your eyes closed, you pick up the next one on the stack. Of course, the classic Brown Bear Brown Bear. While reading, you flash back to just yesterday when you were reading this same book to your other charge of two years. In fact, you flash back to reading it to your nephew last weekend, your cousin last Thanksgiving, and you even flash back to having your mother read it to YOU many moons ago.

Book Deja Vu.

Every nanny gets it at some point in her career. Most nannies experience it every day. Thus, we can’t help but beg the question, what makes a classic a classic? Are there any “new” classics?

Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is the perfect example of a classic children’s picture book. It rhymes, offers simple pictures of everyday objects in both color and black and white, and represents the main character as an animal, thereby creating a timeless story which appeals to a diverse audience. The classic notability is sealed by the bedtime book genre it falls within. This special bedtime favorite has been read to generations of children, being passed down again and again. The ability for each family to make it uniquely their own continually breathes new life into this oldie but goodie (I personally love to meow for the kittens myself).

However, not every classic has to be old. In the end, a classic is a book that a child will come back to again and again because of the emotional connection that book offers them through a certain aspect of that particular book, from illustrations and subject matter to noises and silliness. Such is the power of a good book: you can read it again and again and every time it is new.

Below is a list of my favorite picture books, new and old. What would you add to the list?

Oldies but Goodies:

Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Runaway Bunny By Margaret Wise Brown

Time For Bed by Mem Fox

Ten Little Finger Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Brown Bear Brown Bear by Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr.

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

The Gigantic Turnip by Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy

Corduroy by Don Freeman

Curious George by H.A.Rey

Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry

Fox in Socks by Dr. Suess

Cat in the Hat by Dr. Suess


The Day the Babies Crawled Away by Judy Sierra

PInkalicious by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

Press Here by Herve Tullet

The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker

and so many more!