Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Essential Picture Books

If there's one good thing about the "Death of the Picture Book OMG The World is Ennnnnnnnding!" article in the New York Times, it's that people are paying more attention to the humble picture book. Strollerderby shares its list of the 5 Essential Picture Books for a Perfect Childhood.

Honestly, after reading the list, I can't say that I agree that these books are essential. Like, your kid will grow up to be a sociopathic mass murderer or somebody who doesn't pay library overdue fines if they don't read them. But I do agree they're great books and well worth reading over and over again.

My Essential Five would be:

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Okay, I'm with StrollerDerby on this one. There's just something about the rhythm of the language, the soothing repetition, and that mouse.

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
. . . and this one. People talk about books with appeal to both parent and child, and this may just be the perfect example of that. Adults can sympathize with poor frustrated Daddy while children will know exactly what the devastated Trixie is going through. Plus, the combo of black-and-white photographs and color cartoons? Genius.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
I remember the art most of all, those thick blocks of color in varying intensities. And the holes. Why were those holes so fascinating? I know not.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Oh gosh, talk about simplicity in art. But this book is all about the power of imagination. Is Harold pretending, or is it really a magical purple crayon that makes him a pint-size God? Who cares?

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
A book about adventure and wild rumpuses and journeys across the sea and monsters that can be tamed, and a kid who can go through all this without Learning a Lesson of some sort.

Now admittedly, this is what I came up with after about twenty minutes of cogitation, and heavily weighted toward the books that had a permanent place on my childhood shelves. It's a highly subjective thing, picture book essentialism. What would you call your Essential Five?


Anonymous said...

Great List! I love the "You read to me, I'll read to you" books.

Some of my fav "essentials" are aside from the ones you picked:

1. The Little Engine That Could
2. The Tale of Peter Rabbit
3. Stone Soup
4. Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom
5. Miss Nelson is Missing

Bibliovore said...

Oh, those are good books! Chicka Chicka Boom Boom was actually on my list, (just because it's so much fun to read aloud) but I had to knock it off to make way for Where the Wild Things are. It's hard to pick just five!

aspino said...

I'm afraid my list would have more than five books! I'd have to add Corduroy and Harry the Dirty Dog.