Choosing Picture Books

Kids love to be read to.  When my kids were preschoolers, I read them many classic picture books I loved as a child.  I chose books with rich language, interesting story lines  and captivating illustrations.  These kinds of books often satisfy children’s curiosity and sense of wonder.

We also read our fair share of books based on favorite characters such as Thomas the Tank Engine, Dora the Explorer and her cousin Diego as well as Caillou and Dinosaur Train. There are many many children’s books available these days.  Some books are just fun fluffy reading, like those based on TV or movie characters, others are rich with complex and emotional story lines that captivate kids.

*this post contains affiliate links

A Snowy DaySilvesterand the Magic PebbleCorduroyCurious George Hospital

The picture books the kids and I love most are:

  Many of the books we enjoy reading are Caldecott Award Books. The Caldecott Medal award was established in 1937 by the American Library Association. It is  given to an artist who has created the most distinguished American picture book each year.  The award is named in honor of the nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph J. Caldecott.  More information about the Caldecott Award can be found at the Association for Library Services to Children website. The list of Caldecott Medal Winners since 1938 can be found here. also has a page dedicated to the Caldecott Winners.  Of course almost all libraries have these beautifully illustrated books available.

Other popular Caldecott winners and books we enjoy are:

In Some of My Best Friends are Books, Judith Halsted explains that picture books written with engaging characters and rich language “expand the child’s world, encourage further exploration, and enrich the mind and spirit with artistic integrity”.  I also find that as a parent and teacher, I enjoy reading these books too, especially since I am asked to read them repeatedly.

Imagination and Creativity 

Choosing books that are beautifully illustrated and engaging allows for better discussions and extensions.  Picture books help promote imagination and creative thinking.  Books and art can be combined to encourage children to tap into their own ideas and imagination.  For example, the book serves as the inspiration for a creative response for the child.  The parent or teacher can help guide the child’s response by posing questions or supplying materials the child can use to create his response to the story, illustrations or characters.  Some young children may choose an artistic response to the story such as  painting, drawing, or using a variety of materials.  Some children will imagine themselves as the characters and act out the story or pretend play.  Children who are writers may enjoy coming up with their versions of the story.

Ideas for Creative Responses

This Snowy Day inspired landscape collage is found at Deep Space Sparkle.

A-snowy-day-art-lesson-21 offers provides a monthly book and creative art activity for the family.

Anna at KitLitCrafts provides craft tutorials and free printables based on a children’s picture books. chooses beautiful books to inspire creativity.  I highly recommend checking out the many ideas she provides.

Every Day Birds
Collaborative art based on a nonfiction book from

 The most important part of reading to your kids is building connections and enjoying a shared experience.  Choosing quality picture books, including nonfiction, helps keep kids and adults engaged in the story.  Encouraging creativity or responding to a book should be a natural extension.  Together, you can imagine alternative endings or change the characters and/or plot.  If the extension leads to art or drama, fantastic!  If it doesn’t, that’s ok too, just keep offering choices and materials.

I offered the following invitation to make snowflake art based on The Snowy Day.  It looked fun to me, but the kids didn’t really take to it. My daughter and I made some watercolor salt paintings.  They prefer making paper snowflakes just folding and cutting it up and as you can see in the photo, I didn’t offer that. 😦

We moved on and spent time reading fairy tale retellings by James Marshall.


Published by

Maria Arana

Hi, I am Maria, a mom to three wonderful kiddos. My family and I live in Phoenix, Arizona. We love the beauty of the desert southwest. I am a former primary teacher and elementary math coach. I love to encourage my children to follow their interests and passions. At Guided Learning Studio, I offer private personalized lessons and enrichment classes. Tutoring services are best for families seeking long-term educational support over a semester or school-year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s