Our family’s favorite picture book authors earn “forever spots” on our bookshelves. Those spots don’t just go to any old books. Nope. To earn a coveted spot on our shelves, a book has to be pretty special.
While bunches and bunches of authors have found a space or two on our shelves, there are only a handful who have large spaces dedicated to several of their books. Those are the authors I think you should know about, too, so your family can enjoy their stories as much as we have.
This is the second of two posts sharing our favorite picture book authors with you. If you haven’t already, be sure to make note of the authors from the first post, too. My children and I hope you love all twelve of our favorites!
Our Favorite Picture Book Authors
Note that we have only read the books you see in this post. Some of the authors have written even more books than I mention, but I don’t want to recommend anything unless I’ve actually read it. However, you are likely to enjoy just about anything you find at the library from these authors.
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Our Favorite Books by Bill Peet
Many of Bill Peet’s books are a hoot, which is why my children loved them so much during their elementary years! The colorful, whimsical illustrations add so much to the stories, too.
Don’t let the whimsey fool you, though. Most of these books have a deeper message that even your kids will catch. Both The Wump World and Farewell to Shady Glade for instance, share the theme of stewardship of our world and it’s resources. Big, Bad Bruce reminds us about humility. And, several of Peet’s books encourage things like perseverance and/or appreciating unique qualities about ourselves and others.
We haven’t found a Bill Peet book we didn’t liked. Even with the large list below, there are still several we haven’t read, though. One of these days, I hope to get my hands on the rest of them!
Our Favorite Books by Virginia Lee Burton
Mike Mulligan and Katy are dear friends of our family. They are two characters who made their way into our house early on and never left. We must have read Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel and Katy and the Big Snow a hundred times each over the years.
Virginia Lee Burton just has a way of giving inanimate objects a great big personality (personification) that truly makes the characters seem like you’d want them as your best friends. The perseverance and kindness each character demonstrates makes the books great for character building, too.
I sincerely wish Virginia Lee Burton had written loads and loads more books for our shelves.
Our Favorite Books by Eve Bunting
With Eve Bunting you’ll find a little bit of nature study, a little bit of American history, a little little bit of legend – and a lot of tenderness. Appropriate for all ages, her books will leave you thinking; mulling over the subtle emotions you’re left with. Nothing too heavy, mind you.
How can I explain this? At the end of each book, you’ll feel good about the happy ending. However, deeper thoughts will be stirred that you will probably ponder over for at least a little while – even if just in your own heart. For instance, after reading Train to Somewhere, you’ll consider the feelings of orphans. Or after reading The Night Tree, you’ll give a second thought to the traditions in your family and wonder about the winter animals nearby.
Don’t be afraid. It’s good when books stir us a little! All of the books below are tops on the various unit study literature lists I’ve created.
Our Favorite Books by George Ella Lyon
George Ella Lyon is a Kentucky author. I just had to include a homegirl on my list!
For some reason, Come A Tide has been an incredible hit in our house. My third child could not get enough of this book when he was younger. Maybe it was because of the adventurous flood or maybe it was because I read in my best country accent. Either way, we read it over and over again.
In each of these books, she shares a glimpse of the culture of Eastern Kentucky families. Specifically, she tends to write about rural families who’ve had to work hard for a very small living. Most of these books would work well with a study of Appalachian life. Cecil’s Story, however, is about the Civil War.
Our Favorite Books by Cindy Neuschwander
Cindy Neuschwander is in the running with Patricia Polacco and Tomie dePaola for having the most books on our shelves. Her amazingly creative math literature is top-notch and she’s my go-to suggestion when people ask me which math books are must-haves.
When I first read Sir Cumference and the Round Table several years ago, I couldn’t get over the brilliance of the storyline. It was teaching mathematical concepts and terminology within a living story! As I continued to read additional books in the Sir Cumference series, they were all just as good. And, my kids loved them.
Because the Sir Cumference series covers topics like perimeter, area, angles, and fractions, I usually reserve them for children who are at least 3rd grade. I’ve even used these books with middle school students! Younger children will still enjoy the stories – they just might not take in all the mathematical goodness. Sir Cumference and All the King’s Tens is one exception. It covers tens, hundreds, and thousands and could easily be understood as early as 1st or 2nd grade.
Luckily, there are some books (not in the Sir Cumference series) that are appropriate for the younger crowd. Mummy Math, Amanda Bean’s Amazing Dream, Patterns in Peru, and Pastry School in Paris are meant for 1st-4th grades and cover things like geometry, multiplication, patterning, and capacity.
Our Favorite Books by Barbara Cooney
OK. I’m cheating big time here. Not even quite half of our Barbara Cooney books were authored by her. The ones that were are excellent. The others were illustrated by her – and they’re also excellent. Here’s how I think I’m getting away with this: She writes and illustrates really good living literature.
Of all the books in this list, my favorite by far is Miss Rumphius. When I asked each of my children to name their favorite, they settled on different answers…but all of them had a difficult time deciding because there are so many great choices. One chose Ox-Cart Man, another chose Roxaboxen, and the other chose The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree.
I love how so many of the books Cooney has written or illustrated have an autobiographical feel – like the author is telling us a precious memory. I also love that every single one of these books fit well into a particular time period in history and can be used to share cultural or historical nuances ever-so-gently.
And that wraps up this mini-series of posts about our favorite picture book authors. I’d love, love, love to know which authors have earned the seal of approval in your family!
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Who are your favorite picture book authors?