Children’s Books

    Some of the best memories I have from childhood are of my mother lying in bed with me and reading me stories. I can remember way back when books like Pat the Bunny and Goodnight Moon were appropriate, so we're talking decades. We had a few greatest hits, Elouise and The Chronicles of Narnia being frontrunners. That time together was pretty indelible. I'm always looking for great books I may not know about to read to my kids. We've put together some recommendations that are worth checking out.


    From Julia Rothman

    An Awesome Book - by Dallas Clayton

    Artist Dallas Clayton published this hardcover book himself and sold out his first run immediately. The title is true! The book reminds you to dream bigger and let your imagination grow. Instead of dreaming about "matching silverware", dream about "rocket powered unicorns." Dallas has set up a foundation to promote children's literacy. For every book sold, he donates a book to a school, hospital, library, camp or shelter.

    The Night Life of Trees by Tara Publishing

    You might hold your breath while turning the pages of this book because it's that beautiful! Created by hand and illustrated by tribal artists of India, each page tells folklore of a different tree. The tree artwork is silkscreened onto black paper, creating vibrant palettes and images that you could imagine cutting out of the book to hang on your walls.

    Hubert the Pudge: A Vegetarian Tale by Henrik Drescher

    In this cute story, Hubert, a funny looking pig- elephant hybrid with horns, escapes his fate of becoming another greasy dinner by climbing through a tiny hole in the fence at Farmer Jake's Processing Plant. He meets some friends in the jungle before planning a rescue mission to save all the other "pudges" and persuades the farmer to open a tofu dog factory instead. This book is a great way to teach kids about vegetarianism plus the brightly colored ink illustrations make each page fun to get lost in.

    Follow the Line by Laura Ljungkvist

    One single line carries you through every spread of the whole book forming the shapes for illustrations along the way. Kids run their finger along the line tracing undersea lands, a forest, a busy neighborhood and more. This book started a whole series of Follow the Line Books.

    There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly by Jeremy Holmes

    This cleverly designed book takes an old classic and brings it to life. The rectangular book shape becomes the old lady standing up. Her mid-section, where her stomach exists, is the book part. So when flipping the pages you feel like you are looking inside her stomach to see what’s she’s eaten: a fly explorer, a nerdy spider, and so on and so forth. On the last page, she "swallowed a horse. She dies, of course." As soon as you flip to that last page, the old lady's eyes shut- a really fun surprise.

    Tribal Alphabet by Nan Richardson and Claudia Pearson

    Each page of this book is a look at a different indigenous group from around the world. With colorful bright portrait illustrations, the detailed traditional attire steals the spotlight. The endpages have a map to help you locate where these tribes live. A portion of the sales of this book goes to the not-for-profit foundation Cultural Survival.

    When You Were Small by Sara O'Leary and Julie Morstad

    Every night Henry asks his father to tell him about when he was small. His father tells him how he was so small he used to fit in a shirt pocket, wear a thimble for a hat, battle chess pieces and walk his pet ant. Julie Morstad's sweet and delicate illustrations enhance this imaginative story.

    The Red Shoes by Sun Young Yoo and Gloria Fowler

    An adaptation of the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale, this version of The Red Shoes offers a positive message to young girls instead. The pen and ink illustrations are insanely detailed — every strand of hair is drawn on each character and it's waves lead your eye around the page. There is so much gorgeous patterning, you will be so amazed at the craftsmanship.

    Kid-O Animal Homes Wooden Book by Kid-O

    This wooden baby book has simply designed illustrations showing animals in their habitat- a rabbit in a grassy hole, a puppy in a doghouse, The flat colors are silkscreened directly on the wood so the colors are bright and bold. Perfect for a baby's first book.


    Every issue of the UK kid's magazine Anorak is better than the last. The creative activities, recipes, comics, short stories and fashion spreads are designed by some of today's most popular artists and illustrators. And what kid doesn't love getting mail? You can purchase a subscription at their site.

    Julia Rothman is a Brooklyn-based illustrator and pattern designer who blogs about book design on Book by Its Cover. She is also part of a three person design company, called ALSO, with animator Matt Lamothe and designer Jenny Volvovski.

    From Julianne Moore

    When asked about my favorite children’s books, I always find it so difficult to narrow it down – I have my whole childhood to consider, as well as my seven year old’s, my twelve year old’s, and my much younger nephews’ and niece’s. But the most important aspect for me is that they all share a child’s perspective, rather than an adult one. So here is just a teeny tiny sampling of the books that they and I have enjoyed.

    Good Night Gorilla
    by Peggy Rathman

    An adorable picture book that both my kids loved from the time they were old enough to focus on an illustration – a zookeeper tries to put all the animals in a zoo to bed – only to find them all in bed with him in his own house. Very funny for very little kids.

    Don’t Let the Pidgeon Drive the Bus! and
    Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

    This wooden baby book has simply designed illustrations showing animals in their habitat- a rabbit in a grassy hole, a puppy in a doghouse, The flat colors are silkscreened directly on the wood so the colors are bright and bold. Perfect for a baby's first book.

    Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
    by Kevin Henkes

    Kevin’s work never fails to move me – he writes with such incredible empathy. Lilly is in love with her teacher, and when she receives a beautiful purse as a gift, she brings it to school, expecting her teacher to be impressed with it as well. When she can’t stop playing with it in class, her teacher takes it away for the day, and she is filled with anger and shame. In this beautiful book, Kevin explores what it is to be little, and have very big feelings.

    Meet My Staff
    by Patricia Marx (illustrations by Roz Chast)

    I don’t remember how my family acquired this book –it just appeared one day, probably at a birthday party , but we are so grateful - it never fails to make us laugh out loud. A little boy describes all the imaginary characters who work for him – the people who eat his vegetables, make his bed, and do his homework.

    Hang Tough, Paul Mather, Tony and Me, and Jake by Alfred Slote

    These are books my husband grew up with, and he introduced them to my son. My son was just moving beyond beginner chapter books, and these books turned him into a real reader. They are stories about boys, sports, friendship and morality – about the kind of boy you want to be when you grow up.

    Junie B. Jones
    by Barbara Park

    Barbara Park is a genius - she has completely crawled inside the mind of a very special, kind of demanding, kindergarten girl and continues her adventures in an amazing series of books. It is a wonderful series for beginning readers.

    Ann Likes Red
    by Dorothy Z. Seymour

    My mother bought me this book in a supermarket when I was six years old and I have never forgotten it. It is about a little girl who goes back to school shopping and insists on buying everything red. Evidently, I am not the only one who never forgot it – it has recently been reissued by popular demand. The book’s author is a former 1st grade teacher who used limited vocabulary to create a primer for kindergartners and 1st graders. But I loved it because it is about self-determinism!

    Hugo Cabret
    by Brian O. Selznick

    Hugo Cabret is a masterpiece. My son read it on his own when it was first published, and told me he loved it, but I didn’t read it until one rainy day when my daughter was looking for something to do and asked me to read to her. She wouldn’t let me stop and we read the whole book that day. It is a magical, moving book about dreams, achievement, and who you belong to. Brian is as gifted an artist as he is a storyteller. This summer the book is being made into a movie directed by the great Martin Scorsese.

    by Maurice Sendak and Tony Kushner

    And finally, Brundibar by Maurice Sendak and Tony Kushner. Maurice Sendak is king of kings in the children’s book world, and Tony Kushner is an award winning playwright. This is a very interesting book that is based on a Czech opera that was written in 1938. The opera was performed 55 times by the children of the Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp. I was worried that it would be too scary for my kids, but they are really compelled by the story. A little girl and boy go into town to find fresh milk to make their sick mother well. They are met with resistance everywhere, and bullied by a monstrous organ grinder. They are finally successful when they turn to the other children in the town for help, and run the organ grinder out of town. They triumph, all the while knowing that the fight against injustice will be a constant one, and that evil may return. My favorite quote from the book is “ People are very happy helping. It’s never hard to find help. It is only hard to know that it is time to ask.” It is a beautiful story about the paradoxes of life.

    Julianne Moore is an actress and the author of 2 children’s books – Freckleface Strawberry, and Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully. The third book in the series will be released in April 2011.

    From Mary Wigmore

    There are several children's books that we love – a couple of old favorites from when we were kids, others that have recently been given to us by friends and family.

    Of all my son Sam’s books, the best of them stand the true test: they can be reread a million times while still retaining a sense of discovery and most of all, comfort. That he asks for them again and again tells us something is working and attests to the true genius of the best children’s book authors.

    Looking at our stack of greatest hits, what these books seem to share is a handmade quality, surprising images, clear poetic language (and they never talk down to children).

    Duck and Goose
    by Tad Hills

    This is a story of a duck and goose who mistake a ball for an egg. It’s funny because the reader is instantly in on the joke, and as you see them bumble through mild conflict, their sweetness enables them to work it out. It’s a nice story about sharing and every one of the illustrations is like a beautiful painting for children.

    Little Fur Family
    by Margaret Wise Brown

    Just plain weird and completely wonderful! This is a story about little fur creatures that live in a warm wooden tree. Written like a trippy blank verse poem with illustrations to match, it’s about a day in the life of a small fur boy venturing out into the woods alone, experiencing the wonder of everything and then returning to his cozy and affectionate family, where he receives equally massive doses of unconditional love and stability.

    Also by Margaret Wise Brown: Big Red Barn. My husband impersonates Bob Dylan’s “freewheelin” talking blues style when he reads this old timey story and gets laughs (most of the time).

    In the Night Kitchen - by Maurice Sendak

    Like a dream assembled from elements of everyday life, it is at once familiar while you can never be sure exactly what it’s about ~ which makes it fresh on every read!

    Andrew Henry’s Meadow
    by Doris Burn

    Andrew Henry is a super creative kid who builds elaborate machines, creating havoc in a household indifferent to his creative charms. He runs away and quickly finds like-minded kids who construct a kind of creative misfit utopia. This was my husband’s favorite as a child and now our son asks to read it almost every night.

    by Bruno Munari

    A gift from his friend Esther, this book has been a real hit, and it is always a surprise when we get to the gatefold with the caption: "The Birds Are Infinite....." We love the illustrations and the unique descriptions of the animals.

    by Leo Lionni

    Frederick teaches us that being an oddball visionary is important. A great story about valuing artistic vision. I am sensing a theme here…

    This is New York
    by Miroslav Sasek

    Whenever my husband travels to New York for work, my son and I study this book to learn about the intricacies of the Big Apple. Stylized and high-modern, it’s like a retro fantasy of what New York City life is/was like – and it helps Sam imagine where his dad is.

    My Friends
    by Taro Gomi

    I like this book because it reinforces the way that connections to other people and animals are the most instructive and constructive forces in our lives.

    The little girl in the story is adventurous whether she is climbing a tree with a monkey, singing on the roof with birds or karate chopping a tree with a gorilla. She has the fearlessness and wonder of a romantic poet! What a cool customer! The gouache paintings are surprising with nice colors.

    Richard Scarry’s Biggest Wordbook Ever
    by Richard Scarry

    I don’t know what we would do without this book.

    Wonder Bear
    by Tao Nyeu

    Incredible Illustrations! No words! This dreamy story is different every time depending on the reader!

    Also, check this out – a great event for people in NYC and a valuable cause to contribute to:


    Bring your books. You've read them, you've loved them, and now you can change someone's life by passing those books on. ReadThis, a volunteer group founded by writers, is on a mission to provide books to people who need them. Through book drives and online wishlists, ReadThis has created libraries for public schools that don't have them, bought books for high school students who never read a book together, and sent thousands of books to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan who requested them. On Saturday, April 10th in NYC, they will partner with the Center for Fiction to gather books for kids in need. Elizabeth Gilbert (a ReadThis board member), Sam Lipsyte, Jamaica Kincaid, Cecily von Ziegesar (Gossip Girl), Martha McPhee, Rick Moody, Adam Haslett, and many, many more will be among the writers participating in this festival.

    You can go to for a full program of events, or buy a couple of books online for a needy school. Join ReadThis's future efforts on Facebook: or email them at

    Mary Wigmore Reynolds is a filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.

    From Aimee Scorza:

    If You're Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night
    by Cooper Edens

    This whimsical little book is full of magical pictures and words that offer unconventional solutions to life's obstacles. The words play with your imagination and carry a warm message of acceptance of fears, doubts, and joy.

    The Sneetches and Other Stories
    by Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Zeisel

    This is a fantastic collection of four stories.  They are written in Dr. Seuss’ familiar tone of tongue twisters and rhymes. Read enough times, they almost become a song and are guaranteed to bring laughter to all ages.  I read this story to Dylan and Max (beautiful twin girls I had the pleasure of caring for) every night before bed. They would memorize certain parts and chime in with me as I read along. They loved yelling out “Sylvester McMonkey McBean!!,” the “fix it up chappie” when his name became part of the story. The Sneetches opened up many conversations for us about prejudices and acceptance. This book will always be one of my favorites.

    I like you
    by Sandol Stoddard

    This tiny book is great for all ages. Perfect for a special friendships that you want to celebrate. It's simple, fun, and silly.

    My Many Colored Days
    by Dr. Seuss

    This sweet book has the most amazing watercolors. Each page is painted with a specific color and talks about a particular emotion. I have used the rhyming words as a reference to help children express how they are feeling. Happy, sad, confident, or shy - at the end of the day you are still you.

    Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
    by Judi and Ron Barrett

    My second grade teacher introduced this book to me and I have passed it along to many children. It's about a town called Chewandswallow. This special town doesn't have any grocery stores. Food is provided by the weather and comes three times a day. It snows mashed potatoes, has split pea soup fog, and rains orange juice. It begins to storm and flood making the food become giant. This forces them to build boats made out of bread and sail away in search of a safer place. I still remember imagining super sized donuts rolling down the streets and wondering if a pancake could really be bigger than a house. It's a great story that opens up questions about the weather and how fun the imagination can be.

    A sought-after nanny and an all-around gem, Aimée Scorza is a positive, encouraging, and calming influence for all the children who have had the fortune of being cared for by her.

    From Elizabeth Bird:

    Come visit the Stephen A. Schwartzman building on 5th Avenue and 42nd St! We have, in our Children's Center, the original Winnie-the-Pooh toys.  And by that I mean that we own the toys that were owned by Christopher Robin Milne, son of A.A. Milne who wrote the Winnie-the-Pooh books.  So, in a sense, we own and display the REAL Pooh.  And best of all, we're open seven days a week so anyone can see him.  Here's some of the information about him.

    Here are some old picture books on New York:

    by Brian Collier

    A tour of the sights of Harlem, including the Metro-North Train, brownstones, shopping on 125th Street , a barber shop, summer basketball, the Boy's Choir, and sunset over the Harlem River.

    Hilary and the Lions - by Frank Desaix

    On her first visit to New York City , as she is walking in the streets, Hilary is separated from her parents. She falls asleep on one of the New York Public Library lions who suddenly wake up, carry her through the city and bring her safely back to her parents.

    Abuela - by Arthur Dorros

    While riding on a bus with her grandmother, a little girl imagines that they are carried up into the sky and fly over the sights of New York City.

    The Man Who Walked Between the Towers - by Mordecai Gerstein

    A lyrical evocation of Philippe Petit's 1974 tightrope walk between the World Trade Center towers.

    The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge
    by Hildegarde Swift

    The story of a little red lighthouse on the Hudson River that was eventually overshadowed by the George Washington Bridge.

    How Little Lori Visited Times Square
    by Amos Vogel

    A young boy sets out to see Times Square and ends up all over New York City.

    And here are some new picture books about
    New York

    The Curious Garden
    by Peter Brown

    Inspired by The High Line, this delightful tale tells a remarkably simple story of a boy and his unexpected urban garden endeavor.

    Clang-clang! Beep-beep! : Listen to the City
    by Robert Burleigh (illustrated by Beppe Giacobbe)

    From morning until night, a city is filled with such sounds as the roars and snores of a subway ride, the flutters and coos of pigeons, and the shouts and beeps of drivers in traffic.

    Cool Daddy Rat - by Kristyn Crow

    A young rat hides in his father's bass case and tags along as he plays and scats around the big city.

    Looking Like Me
    by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Christopher Myers

    "I looked in the mirror / and what did I see? / A real cool dude / looking just like me." A crazed eclectic series of images accompany this fantastically cool tale of one kid discovering all his different selves and personas. Full of Brooklyn photographs.

    by Christoph Niemann

    Not even published yet, but this book will be huge. Based on a popular New York Times piece from 2008, Niemann discusses all the cool subway lines in New York City for those kids obsessed with the different lines. On sale May 25, 2010!

    A Trip to New York
    by Salvatore Rubbino

    Experience the wonders of New York as readers follow a wide-eyed boy and his dad on their walk around Manhattan, from Grand Central Terminal to the top of the Empire State Building, from Greenwich Village to the Statue of Liberty. Includes lots of facts and trivia, a gatefold of the Empire State Building, and it even includes our very own library!

    Elizabeth Bird is a Senior Children’s Librarian at the New York Public Library.

    From Apple and Moses

    Oh Say Can You Say - by Dr. Seuss

    Oh, the Places You’ll Go! - by Dr. Seuss

    Green Eggs and Ham - by Dr. Seuss

    Thank You Bear - by Greg Foley

    Mr. Creep the Crook - by Allan Ahlberg

    Cops and Robbers - by Allan Ahlberg

    Skippyjon Jones - by Judy Schachner

    David A. and Noelle Carter’s pop-up books are in constant circulation at home. These books are sculptural works of art that we love to flip through and that our kids love too. Take a look at their website which is full of pop-up how-to’s:

    Kid Made Modern - by Todd Oldham

    Todd Oldham’s inspired take on the children’s crafts book, he uses Mid-Century Modern design by the likes of Bruno Munari, Marimekko, and Alvin Lustig as a jump off point for inspiration. Ammo books has provided a peak into this ingenious book.

    The goop collection