This Year’s Favorite Picture Books

Every year children vote on their favorite chapter reading book.  Charlotte’s Web is the clear winner most years.  This year we voted on our favorite picture books as well.  That was a big challenge for children as we read at least one, and maybe two or three picture books a day.  You do the math: 180 school days. That’s a lot of books!

Of course we often read books multiple times.  Good books are meant to be read over and over again.

Here are the picture books children voted as their favorite:

This is a true story of a whale who got lost in the San Francisco bay and swam the wrong way, heading up the Sacramento  River.  As the river narrows Humphrey somehow swims under a small bridge and becomes trapped.  He won’t survive long in fresh water.  Scientists come up with a clever plan to make Humphrey turn around and swim back to the ocean, but the danger is far from over.  The illustrations bring to life the geography of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the pathway of ocean to bay to river.


Bear lives alone and likes it that way.  A family of rabbits build a house next door and try to be friendly and neighborly with Bear.  Bear wants nothing of it and refuses their kind gestures of honey, firewood, and books.  The pesky rabbits keep trying, even ignoring Bear’s welcome mat that reads Go Away.  Then one day…. you’ll have to read the book.


Helen Bannerman wrote this story in India in 1899.  You may remember the classic tale of Little Black Sambo, and tigers who run around a tree and melt into butter – unfortunately a rather racist version.  This book is the restored original story, the way it was written in 1899.  The repeated words of, “Little Babaji I’m going to eat you up” and the tigers dressing up in his clothing delight the reader.  Children enjoyed the book so much that we put on a play performance for families.  We even had a pancake maker.


The beautiful illustrations in this book bring a favorite song to life.  Looking at mountains, prairies, the Statue of Liberty, and a parade of firefighters and police officers is what children enjoy seeing about America.  Did you know that Irving Berlin wrote this song because he felt that “The Star-Spangled Banner” was too difficult, and therefore disliked the song?


Woody Guthrie listened to “God Bless America” on the radio as he drove across America.  He disliked the song, and was inspired to write his own song about America – “This Land is Your Land”.  The book has been a favorite for the entire school year, inspiring the children to design and create a quilt.


Bruce is a grump.  He doesn’t like rain, he doesn’t like sun, and he doesn’t like cute baby animals.  What he does like is eating eggs, and when his eggs accidently become baby geese, he unfortunately becomes a mother.  The humor in this book has children and teachers belly laughing.


Harry is a white dog with black spots who hates a bath.  After burying the scrubbing brush in the backyard and running away from home, he plays in the dirt and becomes a black dog with white spots.  How will he convince his family that he is really Harry, a white dog with black spots?


One day a lion shows up in the library.  As long as he follows the rules he is allowed to stay.  He becomes beloved to the children at story hour, and helpful to Miss Merriweather.  When an accident happens, the lion has to roar- which is breaking the rules, of course.  Will the lion ever return?


A good book never gets old, and after eighty years (yes, eighty!) this story continues to delight children.  Mike Mulligan is sad when steam shovels are no longer needed and give way to modern shovels, yet he won’t part with Marianne, his hardworking steam shovel.  When a job to build a new town hall is advertised, Mike boasts that Marianne can dig the cellar in a day.  Can she?  The illustrations help children to understand digging roads, tunnels, and canals through the obstacles of land and nature.

I applauded the children for voting on these outstanding books.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
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74 Responses to This Year’s Favorite Picture Books

  1. I have read some of these Jennie. A lovely collection.

  2. Dan Antion says:

    Mike Mulligan was one of my favorite books when I was a child. I loved that story. These are all great, but giving them the gift of reading every day, is the best!

    • Jennie says:

      I loved that book, too, and so did my children. I’m so glad it’s still going strong. And yes, the gift of reading is absolutely the best. Thank you, Dan.

  3. Opher says:

    A lot of great books some of which I remember reading to my own children when they were little!!

  4. srbottch says:

    M Mulligan was a fav of our son. Such a wonderful selection, Jennie. Our twin grandchildren are 2 1/2, so it won’t be long before they’ll be ready for these. Great post, Jennie.

  5. map195 says:

    nice share

  6. Ritu says:

    Some great choices!

  7. Great choices. Thanks for sharing Jennie.

  8. beetleypete says:

    Some lovely books indeed, Jennie. Apparently, the most popular book for children here is ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’. Our grandson loved it, and even now he has grown out of it, he will still bring it to us to be read. This clip shows the book being read.

    It has been in print for over 50 years, and sold more than one million copies. The author/illustrator died recently, and her life was featured heavily on the TV news.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  9. Ren says:

    Your children are brilliant! Great choices for sure!!!

  10. Such a lovely selection of books, some of which are new to me, But books are so important in our young children’s lives , I can see why they voted these as favourites Jen.. 🙂

  11. Some of those books have been around for a LONG time, but maybe there’s a reason for that.

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, some are very old. If today’s children love them, that is the best testament to a good book. Thank you, Anneli!

      • I read a very old book to my class and they loved it even though it had no pictures. I told them they had to make up the pictures in their minds. It was Little Pear by Eleanor Frances Lattimore. The librarian told me she was so surprised that so many kids wanted to sign out this old book which had been sitting on the shelf for years, not being signed out.

      • Jennie says:

        A wonderful story, and a tribute to your reading aloud to children. Like you, I tell children they need to make the pictures in their head. They understand! And then your children all wanted the book you read to them from the library – that’s as good as it gets! Thank you so much, Anneli. 🙂

      • I miss that about teaching. Otherwise, retirement is great.

      • Jennie says:

        I will feel exactly the same way when I retire in a few years. 🙂

  12. What a beautiful summary of all the books.

  13. Oh, I remember well when Humphrey swam into to the Bay Area and up into the Delta! I watch the news every to hear he was still alive and rooting on the rescue effort. I’m so glad he was able to be turned around and got back to sea!

    Mike Mulligan was a favorite of #1 Grandson’s and will probably be a favorite of our littlest too.

    Your class voted on some wonderful books! Two I want to add to my children’s book collection.

    • Jennie says:

      You followed the news of Humphrey? Wow! Thank you for telling me, Deborah. Children love true stories, and your grandson might like this one, especially since you were ‘there’. And of course Mike Mulligan is beloved. Can you believe it was written 80 years ago? You can always pick my brain for good books. 🙂

      • Yes, I followed the story and news when he came into the Bay. I think a lot people in the Bay Area were glued to the news hoping he could be saved and lead back out to sea.

        Thank you so much, Jennie your children’s books section and classroom library are fantastic!

      • Jennie says:

        That is terrific! And now when I read about Humphrey to the children, I can add more true details. Very cool. I’m so glad you like my library collection. Well, that’s an understatement, as it’s what I do. You know what I mean.

        BTW, my school is relocating for a year while major renovations are being done. So, teachers are packing up. My books alone filled nine big boxes. 😳

        Thank you, Deborah. 😀

      • I’m not surprised! They’re really heavy too! Be careful moving them!!

  14. Darlene says:

    Some great books here! I gave a copy of MOther Bruce to my great-granddaughter and she loved it.

  15. Luanne says:

    I love that Mike Mulligan is on the list. I was first introduced to it by Captain Kangaroo.

  16. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for a wonderful collection!

  17. I remember the Little Black Sambo book and the controversy that followed. I would love to read the rest of them at some point in time. I’ll save this list. Thank you.

    • Jennie says:

      It wasn’t until I was teaching that I realized Little Black Sambo was a take-off version. I grew up with Little Black Sambo. The original makes perfect sense, as tigers are only in India! And more importantly, it is a great story, far better than the version we knew. Thank goodness the original is back! The next time you’re at the library, ask for some of these books. I think you will like Those Pesky Rabbits and Mother Bruce best. But, they’re all good. Thank you, Marlene. 🙂

  18. CarolCooks2 says:

    A lovely collection of books, Jennie and a great idea to get the children to vote for their favourite…

  19. kowkla123 says:

    beste Grüße von mir zu dir, Klaus

  20. A Kinder Way says:

    I really want to read Mother Bruce! 😉 ❤ That looks like a book my son would have loved when he was a little boy. ❤

  21. Thanks for this list. My children loved Harry the Dirty Dog.

  22. L. Marie says:

    The children picked some lovely books! Library Lion is wonderful as is Mother Bruce. 😄

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad you like both of those books. They are really wonderful! Yes, the children did a great job choosing their favorites. 🙂

  23. Thank you for the recommendation, Jennie! As always great work. Can we say “best enterteachment”. 😉 Michael

  24. jilldennison says:

    Wonderful selection! But now I’m going to have to get “Those Pesky Rabbits”, for you left us hanging! 😊

  25. A delightful collection. I’ve read most but you have a few I need to dig into.

  26. Norah says:

    What a wonderful selection, Jennie. The children have good taste in literature. Being exposed to so many books helps them sort out their own preferences and gives them the ability to separate the special from the not-so. Any book that makes teachers and children belly laugh is a winner as far as I’m concerned. Others of these were childhood favourites, too. I enjoyed the story of how ‘This Land is my Land’ came to be. Thank you for a wonderful share.

    • Jennie says:

      Your train of thought is wonderful here, Norah. I hadn’t thought about how having an abundance of books helps children to decide what they like, and to differentiate between good books and not-so-good books. And yes, belly laughing is the best! I also found the story behind “This Land is Your Land” fascinating. Thank you, Norah.

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