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Picture Books

Materials for Youth 4: Picture Books
from Annette Lamb on Vimeo.
To read the transcript of this video, go to the transcript page.

Picture books are a popular book format for youth. They generally combine visual and language elements. In some cases, they depend entirely on pictures to tell the story. Crossing genres, they may include prose or poetry.

Wartenberg (2013, 2) notes that "writers of great picture books are well attuned to the features of the world that baffle young children. Since many of these bewildering puzzles also befuddle philosophers, picture books frequently focus on philosophical issues... Many of the essential problems of philosophy are made tangible by picture books."

The Charlotte Zolotow Award recognizes the best picture book of the year. Past winners include:

The image below right is from The Dark by Lemony Snicket. Click the image to read the page.


try itTry It!
Go to the Picture Book Database.
Browse their collection.

Alphabet Books

Some of the earliest, illustrated books for children were alphabet books. In most cases, each page presents a letter along with a word and photo illustrating use of the letter. These books were designed to teach the letters of the alphabet. However, they’re actually not the best way to teach the alphabet.

Many alphabet books are simply used as a way to organize information about the world in a visual way. For instance, Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet (2006) (shown below) by David McLimans presents a different endangered animal for each letter of the alphabet. Alphabet City (1995) by Stephen Johnson created paintings that feature letters of the alphabet formed by objects in the urban areas.


When selecting an alphabet book, think about the intended audience and their vocabulary. For instance, Alphabet Rescue (2006) by Audrey Wood is useful to introducing lowercase letters of the alphabet. Farm Alphabet Book (1981) by Jane Miller uses the alphabet book format to introduce children to all aspects of farm life.

Keep in mind that not all alphabet books are warm and fuzzy. The Z Was Zapped: A Play in Twenty-Six Acts (1987) by Chris Van Allsburg shows letters of the alphabet caught in bad situations. For instance, the "B was badly bitten" and the "C was cut to ribbons". Older children enjoy guessing what heinous act will befall each letter. However the book may be disturbing to younger children. The book has even been challenged in some primary schools.

Sleeping Bear Press is known for their alphabet books on a range of topics including states, parks, landforms, animals, and other topics. Titles include A is for Arches, B is for Blue Crab, and C is for Cowboy. Jerry Pallotta is known for his alphabet books on a wide range of topics that appeal to youth including airplanes, boats, and deserts.

mooseSome alphabet books focus on science topics such as the The Butterfly Alphabet (1996) by Kjell Sandved. The photographer spent several decades collecting the images of these magnificent creatures. The author’s website even contains an online set of images and descriptions called Nature’s Own Alphabet.

Not all alphabet books take a traditional letter with matching object approach. For instance, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (1989) by Bill Martin Jr. uses rhyme to introduce multiple letters at a time.

Z is for Moose (2012) by Kelly Bingham takes mixed up approach to an alphabet book that children will find hilarious.

Watch the trailer for Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham. Notice that this is not your usual alphabet book!

Many alphabet books are published as board books. Think about the users of the books and whether a board book will be appropriate. If the library has a large preschool following, a board book makes sense.

When reading alphabet books with children, talk about the format of the book in additional to the letters. Consider the following ideas:

try itTry It!
Want to have some fun? Think about an alphabet book theme. Then, create your own alphabet book using the Alphabet Organizer.

alphabet cityAlphabet Books You Should Know

Alligators All Around: An Alphabet (1991) by Maurice Sendak
Alphabatics (1986) by Suse MacDonald
Alphabet City (1995) by Stephen Johnson
An Alphabet of Dinosaurs (1995) by Peter Dodson
Alphabet Rescue (2006) by Audrey Wood
Animalia (1986) by Graeme Base
Antics! An Alphabetical Anthology (1992) by Cathi Hepworth
Beastiary: An Illuminated Alphabet of Medieval Beasts (1998) by Jonathan Hunt
The Butterfly Alphabet Book (1996) by Kjell Sandved
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (1989) by Bill Martin Jr.
Dr. Seuss’s ABC (1991) by Dr. Seuss
Eating the Alphabet (1989) by Lois Ehlert
Farm Alphabet Book (1981) by Jane Miller
Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet (2006) by David McLimans
The Graphic Alphabet (1996) by David Pelletier
LMNO Peas (2010) by Keith Baker
Many Nations: An Alphabet of Native America (1997) by Joseph Bruchac
Miss Spider’s ABC (1998) by David Kirk
Museum ABC (2002) by The Metropolitan Museum of Art
On Market Street (1981) by Arnold Lobel
The Z was Zapped (1987) by Chris Van Allsburg
Z is for Moose (2012) by Kelly Bingham

Counting Books

Like alphabet books, counting books were some of the earliest books designed specifically for children. While some of these books simply provide the numeral along with the matching number of objects, others introduce basic additional and subtraction too. For instance, the tactile element of punched out eyes makes counting fun and easy with Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On by Lois Ehlert.

Tunnell (2012) notes that Anno’s Counting Book (1977) by Mitsumasa Anno is an outstanding example and one of the few that doesn’t ignore the number 0.

annoCounting Books You Should Know

1-2-3: A Child’s First Counting Book (2007) by Alison Jay
1, 2, 3 to the Zoo: A Counting Book (1968) by Eric Carle
10 Minutes till Bedtime (1998) by Peggy Rathmann
Anno’s Counting Book (1977) by Mitsumasa Anno
Click, Clack, Splish, Splash (2005) by Doreen Cronin
Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On (1990) by Lois Ehlert
How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten? (2004) by Jane Yolen
The Water Hole (2001) by Graeme Base
Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin (1995) by Lloyd Moss

Concept Books

For very young children, the topic of shapes, colors, opposites, transportation, and animals are popular. As children grow older, their informational interests change. Concept books introduce children to a single idea such as weather or seasons. Rather than covering many topics, concept books take a focused approach.

Concept books are particularly popular with children, parents, and teachers. For some examples of seasonal books, go to Allen County Public Library’s Seasonal Books page.

Many authors specialize in writing concept books for children. For instance, Gail Gibbons is known for her short, easy-to-read concept books on topics such as ladybugs, apples, and emergency. Many of her books focus on cycles or processes such as From Seed to Plant (1993).

seed to plantConcept Books Authors You Should Know

Byron Barton
Donald Crews
Lois Ehlert
Gail Gibbons
Tana Hoban
Anne Rockwell
Steve Jenkins
David Schwartz
Ellen Stoll Walsh

Informational Picture Books

Picture books are a wonderful way to introduce young people to a wide range of topics. Books about friendship, school, and social issues are common themes. However, these books are also a wonderful way to introduce science and history topics.

The Locomotive (2013) by Brian Floca explores the history of the train. Click the image below to read a page from this book.


Parrots Over Puerto Rico (2013) by Susan L. Roth focuses on endangered parrots in Puerto Rico. Click the image below to read a page from this book.


While concept books introduce topics to youth, informational picture books provide additional depth and detail. Although these two categories overlap, concept books are generally associated with younger readers and basic information. Some informational books picture book may be very detailed and focused toward older readers. For instance, How Much is a Million (1985) by David Schwartz helps children understand understand large numbers.

A popular category of informational picture books is biographies. Diane Stanley is known for her beautiful picture book biographies including Michelangelo (1997), Saladin: Noble Prince of Islam (2002), and Mozart: The Wonder Child (2009).

Read Lambert, Megan (July/August 2011). Dave the Potter and Stevie the Reader. Horn Book.

Many series such as The Magic School Bus books (1985+ series) by Joanna Cole fall into this category.

Authors like Seymour Simon, Nic Bishop, and Sy Mongomery are well-known for their informational books on science related topics.

we the kidsInformational Picture Books You Should Know

Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring (2010) by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade (2012) by Melissa Sweet
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos (2013) by Deborah Heiligman
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 (2013) by Michelle Markel
An Egg is Quiet (2006) by Dianna Aston
Locomotive (2013) by Brian Floca
Moonshot (2009) by Brian Floca
Owl (2005) by Gail Gibbons
Parrots Over Puerto Rico (2013) by Susan L. Roth
River Ran Wild (1992) by Lynne Cherry
A Splash of Red:  The Life and Art of Horace Pippin (2013) by Jen Bryant
Waiting for Wings (2001) by Louis Ehlert
We the Kids (2002) by David Catrow
Wild Tracks! A Guide to Nature's Footprints (2008) by Jim Arnosky

Picture Storybooks

Picture storybooks for children emerged in the 19th century with authors such as Randolph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway. In the early 20th century, authors like Beatrix Potter extended the popularity of books designed specifically for c hildren with her books featuring Peter Rabbit and other animal characters. By the mid 20th century, authors like Dr. Seuss (The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, 1938) and Robert McCloskey (Blueberries for Sal, 1948), and later Maurice Sendak (The Nutshell Library, 1962) became well-respected for their work for children.

There are many ways to tell a story. While some stories are told as prose, others use elements of poetry.

Read Yolen, Jane (January/February 2014). Owl Moon Redux. HornBook, 46-50.

Angela M. Wiseman (2013, 11) notes that picture books can help youth deal with a wide range of experiences including death and grieving.

"Children’s picturebooks can provide a way to address and support children as they experience trauma and begin to understand the emotions surrounding their grief."

During the 1970s, Mercer Mayer became popular with this lovable monsters. These books dealt with the everyday problems that young children face including new siblings, friendship, and fear of the dark.

grandmaAuthor Spotlight: Mercer Mayer
Visit the author’s website.

Boy, Dog, Frog (1967+series)

There’s a… (1968+ series)

Little Critter (1975+ series)

Little Monster (1977+ series)

teachingAnnette's Anecdotes
Back in the early 1990s, Broderbund's Living Books produced the first computer-based interactive, multimedia, animated books. One of my favorites was Just Grandma and Me by Mercer Mayer. These books were distributed on CD-ROM. Students could read the story, listen to the story read aloud, or play with the story. Today, this doesn't seem like a big deal. However 20+ years ago this was a major jump in sophistication and marked a shift from text to graphical interfaces for children's computer-based materials.

Many of these original interactive books have now been converted to the app format.

Some of these books may seem like light bedtime reads, but others have much deeper meanings. The Lorax (1971) by Dr. Seuss is about preserving the environment and the cost of not taking a stand. In the Night Kitchen (1970) by Maurice Sendak may seem like a whimsical bakery dream, but on closer analysis readers can find elements of the Holocaust represented. Many of these books use imagery and metaphor to help young children deal with difficult subjects.

Read Connolly, Paula T. (2013). ‘‘Texts Like a Patchwork Quilt’’: Reading Picturebooks About Slavery. Children’s Literature in Education, 44, 29–43.

When parents first begin reading to their children at bedtime, picture storybooks are often their choice. Children enjoy the bonding that occurs when books are read aloud over and over again. These early literacy experiences are critical for developing a passion for reading. Kitten’s First Full Moon (2004) by Kevin Henkes is an example of a beautiful picture book focusing on two things young children find fascinating: kittens and the moon.

kittenAuthor Spotlight: Kevin Henkes
Visit the author’s website.

Birds (2009)
A Good Day
Kitten’s First Full Moon (2004)
Mouse books (1987+ series)
A Weekend with Wendell (1986)
Sheila Rae, the Brave (1987)
Chrysanthemum (1991)
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse (1996)
Penny and Her Marble (2013)

From humorous books to serious historical topics, picture storybooks cover a wide range of topics. Seek out books that will appeal to the interests of children. Jon Scieszka is known for his Trucktown picture books like Smash! Crash! (2008) that are geared to the interests of active children, particularly boys.

Look for humorous books that will attract reluctant readers such as the Super Fly Guy (2005+ series) by Tedd Arnold. Look for fun that connects with topics meaningful for youth. Shark vs Train (2010) by Chris Barton focuses on not one, but two favorite topics!


Seek out stories that children can connect to their own lives. Blackout (2011) by John Rocco tells the story of a family dealing with a summer blackout in their city.

fly guyAuthor Spotlight: Ted Arnold
Visit the author’s website.

Even More Parts (2004)
Fly Guy (2005+ series)
Green Wilma (1993)
Huggly (1997+ series)
Parts (1997)
The Yuckiest, Stinkiest Best Valentine Ever (2012)

caseHumor Storybooks You Should Know

A Bad Case of Stripes (1998) by David Shannon
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type (2012) by Doreen Cronin
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (1978) Judi Barrett
Diary of a Worm (2003) by Doreen Cronin
Hi! Fly Guy (2005) by Tedd Arnold
Shark vs Train (2010) by Chris Barton

bonePicture Storybooks You Should Know

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (1972) by Judith Viorst
The Amazing Bone (1976) by William Steig
Blackout (2011) by John Rocco
The Feel Good Book (2002) by Todd Parr
George and Martha (1972) by James Marshall
How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? (2003) by Jane Yolen
Jumanji (1981) by Chris Van Allsburg
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
(2004) by Mo Willems
The Little House (1942) by Virginia Lee Burton
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
(1939) by Virginia Lee Burton
Millions of Cats
(1928) by Wanda Gag
Miss Nelson is Missing!
(1977) by Harry Allard
Mr. Wuffles! (2013) by David Wiesner
No, David! (1998) by David Shannon
Oh, the Places You’ll Go (1990) by Dr. Seuss
(2000) by Ian Falconer
Owl Moon (1987) by Jane Yolen
The Polar Express (1985) by Chris Van Allsburg
The Rainbow Fish (1999) by Marcus Pfister
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (1969) by William Steig

Participation Books

Actively engaging children in individual book pages an effective way to help young children become accustomed to analyzing images and text.

Children love to play I Spy through Scholastic’s well-known series including I Spy Animals (2012) by Jean Marzollo and I Spy Colors in Art (2007) by Lucy Micklethwaite.

Tunnell (2012, 66) defines a participation book as those “designed to involve children in a physical activity that goes beyond the reading of the text, such as finding hidden objects in an illustration (Where’s Waldo The Great Picture Hunt by Martin Handford, 2006), manipulating the flaps and tabs of a pop-up book (The Wheels on the Bus by Paul Zelinsky, 1990), or chiming in with a refrain (“Hundreds of cats, Thousands of cats, Millions and billions and trillions of cats” from Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag, 1928).”

Graeme Base is well-known for adding participatory elements to his books. Many of his books such as Animalia and Waterhole are now available as apps. Click on the image below right. Can you find all the P words?


animaliaAuthor Spotlight: Graeme Base
Visit the author website.

Animalia (1986)
The Eleventh Hour (1989)
Uno’s Garden (2006)
The Jewel Fish of Karnak (2011)

Some of his books are also available as interactive book apps.

waldoParticipation Books You Should Know

Anno’s Counting Book (1977) by Anno
Each Peach Pear Plum (1979) by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? (2009) by Jane Yolen
Just Look (1996) by Tana Hoban
Where’s Spot (1980) by Eric Hill
Where’s Waldo (1987) by Martin Handford

Predictable Books

nappingFive little monkeys jumping on the bed… can you finish this rhyme? If not, it’s time to do some predictable reading and before long you won’t be able to get it out of your head.

Predictable books are loved by young readers. Their repetitive nature makes them easy to read and encourages young readers. They often contain repeated story elements, language patterns, and narrative sequences. The Napping House (1996) by Audrey and Don Wood includes repetitive passages and rhyming language. Young children enjoy the cadence of language as each creature is added to napping grandmother.

Effective predictable books draw children into the story. Youth naturally repeat the refrains. Tunnell (2012) notes that these are sometimes called pattern books and can serve as a bridge to independent reading.

Cumulative repetition, repeated patterns, and circular plotlines are popular in many predictable books. Cumulative stories repeat the story numerous times adding new elements with each retelling. Examples include A Fly Went By (page below left) (1958) by Mike McClintock and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (page below right) (1997) by Simms Taback. Click the images below to read a page from these books.


fishAnnette's Anecdotes
The best predictable books stick in your head. I remember reading A Fly Went By (1958) by Mike McClintock as a child. To this day, I can hear the cadence in my head. As a teacher librarian, I enjoyed reading predictable books to children because they so easily engaged a young audience. Even the squirmiest child could sit still long enough to help recite the repetitive story. These stories also work well for storytelling activities because they are easy to remember. I had a "librarian apron" with many pockets where I could store lots of props for invented stories. I would show and hide the props over and over as the story progressed.

Bill Martin Jr.’s book use a repeated pattern that children easily recognize. The visuals lend support and encourage children to chime in even if they don’t know how to read.

polar bearAuthor Spotlight: Bill Martin Jr.
Visit the author’s website.

Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? (2007)
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (1967)
Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do you See? (2003)
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? (1991)

Laura Numeroff’s books like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (1985) are examples of predictable books that apply a circular plotline. One event causes the next event. The story ultimately ends where it begins. Click the images below to view three pages from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.


mouseAuthor Spotlight: Laura Numeroff
Visit the author’s website.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (1985)
If You Give a Moose a Muffin (1991)
If You Give a Pig a Pancake (1998)
If You Give a Dog a Donut (2011)

Predictable Books You Should Know

Bill Grogan’s Goat (2002) by Mary Ann Hoberman
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (1967) by Bill Martin Jr.
Five Little Monkeys Play Hide-and-Seek
(2004) by Eileen Christelow
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (2008) by Eileen Christelow
Llama Llama Red Pajama
(2005) by Anna Dewdney
The Napping House
(1984) by Audrey Wood
Sheep in a Jeep (1986) by Nancy Shaw (series)
This is the House that Jack Built (2002) by Simms Taback
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969) by Eric Carle

Wordless Books

Books without words are an engaging category of picture book for all ages. Young children learn to “read” by telling stories they see on the pages. Older children invent stories or use their experiences to retell stories they know using the images provided. The Snowman (1978) by Raymond Briggs is a classic example.


While many wordless books like The Lion & the Mouse (2009) (shown above) by Jerry Pinkney are intended to tell a visual story, others focus on teaching concepts using only visuals.

journeyTana Hoban is known for her simple concept books that teach about colors, shapes, and opposites through the use of pictures rather than words.

Many parents, teachers, and librarians use wordless books as part of activities that include writing and discussion activities. Wordless books provide many opportunities to teach children visual literacy including reading the faces of characters, interpreting the action through still images, describing the setting, and predicting the plot based on visual elements.

For instance, ask youth to read the visual story of Journey (2013) by Aaron Becker.

David Wiesner has won numerous awards for his wordless books like Flotsam (2006). The visuals make the story so clear that some people forget they're actually wordless. Click the images below for a couple sample pages.


Read the short essay David Wiesner and Flotsam by Dinah Stevenson. Think about how editing process for wordless books might be the same and different from other picture books.

sectorAuthor Spotlight: David Wiesner
Visit the author’s website.

Flotsam (2006)
Free Fall (1988)
Mr. Wuffles! (2013)
Sector 7 (1999)
The Three Pigs (2002)
Tuesday (1991)

Keep in mind that not all wordless books are designed for young children. The Arrival (2006) by Shaun Tan is a wordless graphic novel that explores an immigrant's life in an imaginary world. Using photographs from places like Ellis Island as inspiration, Tan is able to tell the universal story of arriving in a new world. Click the images below for a larger view.


arrivalWordless Books You Should Know

The Arrival (2006) by Shaun Tan
Belonging (2004) by Jeannie Baker
A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog (1967) by Mercer Mayer
Carl (1985+ series) by Alexandra Day
Changes, Changes (1971) by Pat Hutchins
Daisy Gets Lost (2013) by Chris Raschka
First Snow (2004) by Emily Arnold McCully
Frog Goes to Dinner (1974) by Mercer Mayer
Hogwash (2008) by Arthur Geisert
Journey (2013) by Aaron Becker
The Line (2013) by Paul Bossio
The Lion & the Mouse (2009) by Jerry Pinkney
Mr. Wuffles! (2013) by David Wiesner
Noah’s Ark (1977) by Peter Spier
The Snowman (1978) by Raymond Briggs
Time Flies (1994) by Eric Rohmann
Unspoken (2012) by Henry Cole

Novelty Books

hauntedFrom board books for infants to pop-up books for older children, novelty children’s books have been popular for over two centuries. Often called engineered books because of their physical structure, these book involve unusual elements such as flaps, folds, and objects that readers manipulate. These elements reveal story elements, help explain concepts, and engage readers in the experience.

Some books contain just basic elements. For instance, Dinosaurology: The Search for a Lost World (2013) by Jack Fawcett contains hidden windows and tabs. However, others have very intricate elements. Cinderella: A 3-Dimensional Fairy Tale Theater (2012) by Jane Ray contains three-layer images to provide the feeling of a stage production.

David Carter is known for his pop-up books for very young children such as Bed Bugs (1998). Jan Pienkowski is best-known for his pop-up book Haunted House (1979).

Read Boyce, Lisa Boggiss (2011). Pop Into My Place: An Exploration of the Narrative and Physical Space in Jan Pienkowski’s Haunted House. Children’s Literature in Education, 42, 243–255.

Some novelty books rely on manipulating paper, such as flaps, shapes, and folds. For instance, die-cut books can be created in various shapes such as animal figures, geometric shapes, and transportation.

Others novelty books involve tactile elements. For instance, Sandra Boynton’s books contain pieces of fabric and other materials that children can touch. Everyone wants to pet Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt.

Many pop-up books have been adapted from other popular books such as The Wheels on the Bus (1990) by Paul O. Zelinsky.

Pop-up books related to movie tie-ins such as Transformers: The Ultimate Pop-Up Universe (2013) by Matthew Reinhart and Emiliano Santalucia have become popular. Other titles relate to movies like Star Wars.

bugsScience topics are popular for popup books such as Bugs (2013) by George McGavin and Jim Kay. This book includes a wide range of approaches including slide-out panels, tabs, foldouts, mini-books, and pop-ups (shown on the right).

In some cases, youth can remove and manipulate elements of the books. How Cars Work: The Interactive Guide to Mechanisms that Make a Car Move (2013) by Nick Arnold and Allan Sanders provides "build-you-own" cardboard elements for creating hands-on projects.

Electronic elements are also being embedded into books. From simple sound effects buttons to books that read-aloud each page, there are many options available.

Eric Carle has incorporated simple elements into his books. In The Very Lonely Firefly (1995), a small battery-powered light is used to represent the firefly’s light and in The Very Clumsy Click Beetle (1999), a sound chip is used to make a click sound.

dinoAuthor Spotlight: Robert Sabuda
Visit the author’s website.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (2003)
The Christmas Alphabet (1994)
Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs : The Definitive Pop-up (2005)
Fairies and Magical Creatures (2008)
Gods and Heroes (2010) with Matthew Reinhart
The Little Mermaid (2013)
The Night Before Christmas (2002) by Clement Clark Moore
Peter Pan: A Pop-up Adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s Original Tale (2008)
Twelve Days of Christmas
Winter in White (2007)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (2001)

Watch a video trailer for The Little Mermaid (2013) by Robert Sabuda. Think about the pros and cons of pop-up books in the library.

Novelty Books You Should Know

Animals (Baby Touch and Feel) (2008) by DK
Bed Bugs (1998) by David Carter
Big Frog Can’t Fit In: A Pop-Out Book (2009) by Mo Willems
Bugs (2013) by George McGavin and Jim Kay
Cinderella: A 3-Dimensional Fairy Tale Theater (2012) by Jane Ray
Color Farm (1990) by Lois Ehlert
Dear Zoo: A Life-the-Flap Book (1982) by Rod Campbell
Dinosaurology: The Search for a Lost World (2013) by Jack Fawcett
Fuzzy Bee and Friends (2003) by Roger Priddy
Haunted House (1979) by Jan Pienkowski
The Jolly Postman and Other People’s Letters (1986) by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (1999) by Simms Taback
The Jungle Book: A Pop-Up Adventure (2006) by Matthew Reinhart
Tails (2003) by Matthew Van Fleet
There Are Cats in this Book (2008) by Viviane Schwarz
The Wheels on the Bus (1990) by Paul Zelinsky
The Very Clumsy Click Beetle (1999) by Eric Carle
The Very Lonely Firefly (1995) by Eric Carle

Evaluating Picture Books

stinkyMarilyn Irwin (2013) suggests the following approach to evaluating picture books:

1. Read the book straight through.
2. Read only the text, ignoring illustrations.
3. Read only the illustrations, ignoring the text.
4. Read aloud listening to the sound of the text.
5. Read to notice where the text breaks.
6. Read to notice the illustrator’s choices.
7. Read the colors.
8. Read for the page layout.

While some people think of picture books as only for young children, many of these works are enjoyed by people of all ages. Many middle school teachers enjoy sharing the works of Jon Scieszka with both elementary and middle school youth. Book like The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (1989), The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales (1992), and Squids with be Squids (1998) contain satirical elements that are great for jumpstarting creative writing activities and group discussions at all ages.

Watch a few of the video interviews with Jon Scieszka from Reading Rockets.

try itTry It!
Visit the Picture Book Month website for lots of ideas for using picturebooks with children.


Irwin, Marilyn (2013). Materials for Youth. Lecture notes.

Lamb, Annette (2013). Book History. Unusual Book Forms. Available: http://eduscapes.com/bookhistory/artifact/5.htm

Tunnell, Michael O., Jacobs, James S., Young, Terrell A., & Bryan, Gregory (2012). Children’s Literature, Briefly. Fifth Edition. Pearson.

Wartenberg, Thomas (2013). Sneetch is a Sneetch and Other Philosophical Discoveries: Finding Wisdom in Children's Literature. Wiley-Blackwell. Available as an e-Book through IUPUI.

Wiseman, Angela M. (2013). Summer’s End and Sad Goodbyes: Children’s Picturebooks About Death and Dying. Children’s Literature in Education, 44, 1–14.

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