As one of two of the most prestigious awards given in the United States for children's literature, the Randolph Caldecott Medal is given to the "most distinguished American picture book for children" (Caldecott Medal Home Page) With that in mind, we have a great list of books below that you will want to make sure your children have read at least once. What makes these books great? The pictures. Take a look and decide what your favorite might be!
I really love this book! I have a copy from when my children were little and I have copies for each of their households when collecting children's books starts to be relevant. Over the years I have heard of some of the criticism people have addressed toward this book but none of it has really resonated with me. Sendak's story and illustrations appeal to children in the same way that fairy tales do--none of those is mild and sweet. For children, the world is really black and white, and filled with extremes; either everything is fantastic, or it is terrible. Children can relate to Max, having all experienced that separation from vigorous activity to solitude, with imaginations still running wild. It is excellent that Max is not afraid of the monsters, being master of his imaginary world, and fitting that when he has finished his adventures he returns to the safety and security of home.
In the forty years since Max first cried "Let the wild rumpus start," Maurice Sendak's classic picture book has become one of the most highly acclaimed and best-loved children's books of all time. Now, in celebration of this special anniversary, introduce a new generation to Max's imaginative journey to where the wild things are.
What's not to love about this classic story about believing! Seeing this book always makes me nostalgic for Christmases long past and excited for those to come.
A magical train ride on Christmas Eve takes a boy to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa Claus.
Winner of the 2015 Caldecott Medal This magical story begins on an island far away where an imaginary friend is born. He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to the bustling city, where he finally meets his perfect match and-at long last-is given his special name: Beekle. New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat combines classic storytelling with breathtaking art, creating an unforgettable tale about friendship, imagination, and the courage to find one's place in the world.
This book is absolutely wonderful and is a favorite from my childhood! Robert McCloskey's award-winning, signature illustration style is beautifully detailed and charming, and beautifully tells the heart-warming story of the duck family with their adorable ducklings... whose names just trip off the tongue!
Mrs. Mallard was sure that the pond in the Boston Public Gardens would be a perfect place for her and her eight ducklings to live. The problem was how to get them there through the busy streets of Boston. But with a little help from the Boston police, Mrs. Mallard and Jack, Kack, Lack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack arive safely at their new home. This brilliantly illustrated, amusingly observed tale of Mallards on the move has won the hearts of generations of readers. Awarded the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children in 1941, it has since become a favorite of millions.
I loved this book growing up and still love it! It's so sad when Sylvester panics and turns himself into a rock when he sees a lion, and then he can't reach his magic pebble to turn himself back. When his parents go for a picnic and place the pebble on Sylvester the rock, he's able to turn back again and be with his family. I love the message at the end that they didn't need the rock to wish for anything else, because family is all they needed.
On a rainy day, Sylvester finds a magic pebble that can make wishes come true. But when a lion frightens him on his way home, Sylvester makes a wish that brings unexpected results. How Sylvester is eventually reunited with his loving family and restored to his true self makes a story that is beautifully tender and filled with true magic. Illustrated with William Steig's glowing pictures, this is a modern classic beloved by children everywhere. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is a winner of the Caldecott Medal.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee - The Book Snob Mom - This book is beautifully told through both words and illustrations. I love how the story comes full circle from Amos visiting the animals and helping them every day to the animals coming to visit Amos on his sick day, demonstrating that true friendship goes both ways!
Madeline's Rescue - B is for Bookworm - In the Madeline series, this book is about the dog, Genevieve, who rescued Madeline from her fall to the river. When Genevieve is lost, the girls try to find her. Genevieve ends up back home, and all of the girls want Genevieve to sleep in their bed! It turns out that Genevieve has a bunch of pups, so all the girls get their wish to have a dog in their bed at night. :)
Officer Buckle and Gloria - Grammy - It has been easily more than a decade since I read this book aloud and yet whenever someone brings up the book Officer Buckle and Gloria, I immediately think, "Always stick with your buddy." Officer Buckle is a roundish, straightish, serious police officer who makes a career of giving school presentations on safety tips. Once Gloria, a precocious and animated K-9, becomes his partner, their presentations get really entertaining. While the tips themselves are a little droll in their obviousness, Gloria's charades and Peggy Rathman's imaginative illustrations will have them laughing in the aisles. Officer Buckle and Gloria are much better together than singly; they learn how important it is to stick together.
Jumanji - Left on their own for an afternoon, two bored and restless children find more excitement than they bargained for in a mysterious and mystical jungle adventure board game.
A lavish new picture book from Caldecott-winner Sophie Blackall that will transport readers to the seaside in timeless, nautical splendor! Watch the days and seasons pass as the wind blows, the fog rolls in, and icebergs drift by. Outside, there is water all around. Inside, the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his family unfolds as the keeper boils water for tea, lights the lamp's wick, and writes every detail in his logbook. Step back in time and through the door of this iconic lighthouse into a cozy dollhouse-like interior with the extraordinary award-winning artist Sophie Blackall.
Winner of the Caldecott Medal Once, all the stories in the world belonged to Nyame, the Sky God. He kept them in a box beside his throne. But Ananse, the Spider man, wanted them -- and caught three sly creatures to get them. This story of how we got our own stories to tell is adapted from an African folktale.
Peter Spier is a genius and this is one of his best. I love the details in every illustration. He incorporates spare text from the Old Testament, complemented by the inclusion of a seventeenth-century poem, which he translated from the Dutch original. (For a real treat, look up the book on youtube, James Earl Jones reads the poem!) The first time I read this I was stunned by how many of the unexplained details of the Flood story Spier had contemplated and included for the reader's consideration. One illustration, in particular, has stayed with me for nearly a quarter century: one of a group of elephants standing in thigh-high water. There is so much to look at and talk about on every single page. This book is a joy to read!
Retells in pictures how a pair of every manner of creature climbed on board Noah's ark and thereby survived the Flood.
Saint George and the Dragon - This special new paperback edition of St. George and the Dragon commemorates the 25th Anniversary of the Caldecott Award-winning picture book. Hodges retells an exciting segment from Spenser's The Faerie Queene, in which the Red Cross Knight slays a dreadful dragon that has been terrorizing the countryside for years, bringing peace and joy back to the land. Featuring a fresh new cover design - with artwork that highlights the dragon adventure within - and distinctive embossed gold Caldecott Award sticker, this is the perfect way to introduce the classic tale to a whole new generation of readers.
The Snowy Day - Celebrate a major anniversary of a true classic! In 1962, a little boy named Peter put on his snowsuit and stepped out of his house and into the hearts of millions of readers. The Snowy Day transformed children’s literature with its pioneering portrayal of an African-American child and the charming story and artwork that won it the Caldecott Medal. Fifty years later, Viking proudly celebrates Peter’s adventure in this very special edition. Featuring eight pages of bonus material and a festive cover, this oversized edition of Keats’s beloved book is a must-have.
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat - A very old overcoat is recycled numerous times into a variety of garments.
Grandfather's Journey - Lyrical, breathtaking, splendid—words used to describe Allen Say’s Grandfather’s Journey when it was first published. At once deeply personal yet expressing universally held emotions, this tale of one man’s love for two countries and his constant desire to be in both places captured readers’ attention and hearts. Winner of the 1994 Caldecott Medal, it remains as historically relevant and emotionally engaging as ever.
"Trees are very nice," says Janice May Udry in her first book for children. She goes on to explain that even one tree is nice, if it is the only one you happen to have. Some of the reasons why trees are so good to have around are funny. Some are indisputable facts. But in all of them there is a sense of poetic simplicity and beauty which will be sure to entrance any young child. Whether he knows one tree or many, he will relish the descriptions of the delights to be had in, with, or under a tree. Marc Simont's joyous pictures, half of them in full color, accentuate the child-like charm of the words. And each painting of a tree or trees shows just how very nice they can be.
Four brief "stories" about parents, trains, and cows, or is it really all one story? The author recommends careful inspection of words and pictures to both minimize and enhance confusion.
Rabbit saves the day in a most ingeneous way. When Mouse lets his best friend, Rabbit, play with his brand-new airplane, trouble isn't far behind. From Caldecott Honor award winner Eric Rohmann comes a brand-new picture book about friends and toys and trouble, illustrated in robust, expressive prints. My Friend Rabbit is the winner of the 2003 Caldecott Medal.
Celebrating 30 years of the beloved classic Owl Moon from renowned children’s book author Jane Yolen and Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator John Schoenherr! Late one winter night a little girl and her father go owling. The trees stand still as statues and the world is silent as a dream. Whoo-whoo-whoo, the father calls to the mysterious nighttime bird. But there is no answer. Wordlessly the two companions walk along, for when you go owling you don’t need words. You don’t need anything but hope. Sometimes there isn’t an owl, but sometimes there is.
The Glorious Flight - Winner of the Caldecott Medal, this stunningly illustrated book depicts Louis Bleriot's historic first cross-Channel flight. “Factually accurate, yes-but also a witty pictorial reincarnation of Bleriot’s first experience of an airship”—Kirkus Reviews
The Lion & the Mouse - In this wordless retelling of an Aesop fable set in the African Serengeti, an adventuresome mouse proves that even small creatures are capable of great deeds when she rescues the King of the Jungle.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears - A mosquito's lie sets off a series of reactions in the jungle that results in the owl's refusal to wake the sun and the lion's decision to call a meeting of the animals.
Smoky Night - When the Los Angeles riots break out in the streets of their neighborhood, a young boy and his mother learn the values of getting along with others no matter what their background or nationality. A Caldecott Medal winner. Reprint. 50,000 first printing.
There is perhaps no better loved, no more universal story than Cinderella. Almost every country in the world has a version of it, but the favorite of story-tellers is the French version by Charles Perrault. This translation is excellent for story-telling and also for reading aloud. Marcia Brown's illustrations are full of magic and enchantment from the little cupids putting back the hands of the clock to the last scene at the palace. They are pictures that will stay in a child's mind.
Illustrations and easy-to-read text explore the light that makes a house in the night a home filled with light.
Mufaro was a happy man. Everyone agreed that his two daughters were very beautiful. Nyasha was kind and considerate as well as beautiful, but everyone -- except Mufaro -- knew that Manyara was selfish, badtempered, and spoiled. When the king decided to take a wife and invited "The Most Worthy and Beautiful Daughters in the Land" to appear before him, Mufaro declared proudly that only the king could choose between Nyasha and Manyara. Manyara, of course, didn't agree, and set out to make certain that she would be chosen. John Steptoe has created a memorable modem fable of pride going before a fall, in keeping with the moral of the folktale that was his inspiration. He has illustrated it with stunning paintings that glow with the beauty, warmth, and internal vision of the land and people of his ancestors.
This take on the story of the "Three Little Pigs" is imaginative and fun! I love that it uses the illustrations to tell a big part of the story. The book starts out with the original tale of the wolf blowing down the pigs' houses, but the pigs escape out of the story, go visit others' stories and help characters there, and then, altogether, they fix the ending of their own story with the wolf and live happily ever after.
This picture book begins placidly (and familiarly) enough, with three pigs collecting materials and going off to build houses of straw, sticks, and bricks. But the wolf’s huffing and puffing blows the first pig right out of the story . . . and into the realm of pure imagination. The transition signals the start of a freewheeling adventure with characteristic David Wiesner effects—cinematic flow, astonishing shifts of perspective, and sly humor, as well as episodes of flight. Satisfying both as a story and as an exploration of the nature of story, The Three Pigs takes visual narrative to a new level. Dialogue balloons, text excerpts, and a wide variety of illustration styles guide the reader through a dazzling fantasy universe to the surprising and happy ending. Fans of Tuesday’s frogs and Sector 7’s clouds will be captivated by old friends—the Three Pigs of nursery fame and their companions—in a new guise.
The Funny Little Woman - While chasing a dumpling, a little lady is captured by wicked creatures from whom she escapes with the magic for becoming the richest woman in Japan.
Flotsam - When a young boy discovers a camera on the beach and develops the film, he finds with his microscope many layers of pictures within the photographs.
Locomotive - All aboard! From the creator of the “stunning” (Booklist) Moonshot, a rich and detailed sensory exploration of America’s early railroads. It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding America’s brand-new transcontinental railroad. These pages come alive with the details of the trip and the sounds, speed, and strength of the mighty locomotives; the work that keeps them moving; and the thrill of travel from plains to mountain to ocean. Come hear the hiss of the steam, feel the heat of the engine, watch the landscape race by. Come ride the rails, come cross the young country!
Nine Days to Christmas - Ceci anxiously awaits her first posada, the special Mexican Christmas party, and the opportunity to select a pinata for it.
Mirette learns tightrope walking from Monsieur Bellini, a guest in her mother's boarding house, not knowing that he is a celebrated tightrope artist who has withdrawn from performing because of fear.
When the first flakes fell from the grey sky, the postman and the farmer and the policeman and his wife scurried about doing all the practical things grownups do when a snowstorm comes. But the children laughed and danced, and caught the lacy snowflakes on thier tongues.
Looking through the kitchen window, a little girl and her doting grandparents watch stars, play games, and, most importantly, say hello and goodbye.
Rapunzel - A retelling of a folktale in which a beautiful girl with long golden hair is kept imprisoned in a lonely tower by a sorceress. Includes a note on the origins of the story.
Chanticleer and the Fox - King of the barnyard, Chanticleer struts about all day. When a fox bursts into his domain, dupes him into crowing, and then grabs him in a viselike grip, Chanticleer must do some quick thinking to save himself and his barnyard kingdom. Winner, 1959 Caldecott Medal Notable Children's Books of 1940–1970 (ALA) Winner, 1992 Kerlan Award
Kitten's First Full Moon - Kevin Henkes's acclaimed national bestseller about a kitten, the moon, and a bowl of milk was awarded the Caldecott Medal and was a New York Times Best Illustrated Book. This sturdy board book edition is perfect for little hands! Kitten's First Full Moon is an acclaimed modern classic, from one of the most celebrated and beloved picture book creators working in the field today. This memorable character and her suspenseful adventure are just right for the very youngest child. It is Kitten's first full moon, and when she sees it she thinks it is a bowl of milk in the sky. And she wants it. Does she get it? Well, no . . . and yes. What a night! A concise story, large type, and luminescent pictures play second fiddle to the true star of this book: a brave young kitten who sets out into the world on a quest that leaves her bruised, bewildered, and hungry, but that ultimately leads her back home, where something special is waiting just for her. This perfectly sized board book edition introduces Kitten to a new generation of the youngest readers. Winner of the Caldecott Medal, an ALA Notable Book, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book, and winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award.
Sam, Bangs & Moonshine - Relates the experiences of a little girl as she learns to tell the difference between makebelieve and real life.
A well-mannered little boy, frequently invited to visit the king and queen, always asks to bring a friend--and the friends are always wild animals--and always well-behaved.
This little fox gets in trouble when he drinks up an old woman's milk. In order to pay her back to get his tail back, he has to go through quite the chain of events and favors. I think this book full of a ripple effect of events is alright, but not one that I love or want to read again and again, though I did like how it displayed that one kind person willing to give without receiving makes all the difference.
Awarded the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book of 1971 "One fine day a fox traveled through the great forest. When he reached the other side he was very thirsty." The jaunty red fox stole milk from an old farm woman, lost his tail under the annoyed woman's knife, and spent the day bargaining to get it back. This humorous retelling of a favorite Armenian folktale is a story small children will follow and "read along" with ease.
A girl is lost in a snowstorm. A wolf cub is lost, too. How will they find their way home? Paintings rich with feeling tell this satisfying story of friendship and trust. Here is a book set on a wintry night that will spark imaginations and warm hearts, from Matthew Cordell, author of Trouble Gum and Another Brother.
Illus. in full color. "In this affectionate story, three children follow their grandfather up to the attic, where he pulls out his old bowler hat, gold-tipped cane, and his tap shoes. Grandpa once danced on the vaudeville stage, and as he glides across the floor, the children can see what it was like to be a song and dance man. Gammell captures all the story's inherent joie de vivre with color pencil renderings that leap off the pages. Bespectacled, enthusiastic Grandpa clearly exudes the message that you're only as old as you feel, but the children respond—as will readers—to the nostalgia of the moment. Utterly original."—(starred) Booklist.
A Ball for Daisy - A wordless picture book shows the fun a dog has with her ball, and what happens when it is lost.
Baboushka and the Three Kings - An old woman who was too busy to travel with the Wise Men to find the Child now searches endlessly for Him each Christmas season.
Radiant Child - A visually stunning picture book biography about modern art phenomenon Jean-Michel Basquiat, written and illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award winner Javaka Steptoe. Jean-Michael Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocked to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art work had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe's vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat's own introduce young readers to the powerful message and art doesn't always have to be neat or clean--and definitely not inside the lines--to be beautiful.
So You Want to be President? - This new version of the Caldecott-winning classic by illustrator David Small and author Judith St. George is updated with current facts and new illustrations to include our forty-second president, George W. Bush. There are now three Georges in the catalog of presidential names, a Bush alongside the presidential family tree, and a new face on the endpaper portraiture. Hilariously illustrated by Small, this celebration by St. George shows us the foibles, quirks and humanity of forty-two men who have risen to one of the most powerful positions in the world. Perfect for this election year–and every year!
In this Scottish folk song, a generous family always has room for another person and invites in everyone who passes by.
This is a prayer written for one little girl, but it is a prayer for boys and girls all over the world. It is full of the intimate gentleness for familiar things, the love of friends and family, and the kindly protection of God. It carries a universal appeal for all ages and races, and brings to our hearts and minds the deep responsibility of preserving for all times the faith and hopes of little children.
Sad when the swallows leave for the winter, young Juan prepares to welcome them back to the old California Mission at Capistrano on St. Joseph's Day the next spring.
Al, a janitor, and his faithful dog, Eddie, live in a single room on the West Side. They eat together, they work together, they do everything together. So what's the problem? Thier room is crowded and cramped; their life is an endless struggle. Al and Eddie are practically at eachothers throats when a large and mysterious bird offers them a new life in paradise. After some debate, they decide to accept. Transported to a gorgeous island in the sky, Al and Eddie are soon living a life of ease and luxury. But they come to find that the grass can be a little too green on the other side. After a dramatic, nearly tragic escape from their paradise prison, both man and dog agree: there really is no place like home. Hey, Al is the winner of the 1987 Caldecott Medal.
The Little Island - Depicts the changes that occur on a small island as the seasons come and go, as day changes to night, and as a storm approaches.
The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses - "There was a girl in the village who loved horses... She led the horses to drink at the river. She spoke softly and they followed. People noticed that she understood horses in a special way." And so begins the story of a young Native American girl devoted to the care of her tribe's horses. With simple text and brilliant illustrations. Paul Goble tells how she eventually becomes one of them to forever run free.
Snowflake Bentley - A biography of a self-taught scientist who photographed thousands of individual snowflakes in order to study their unique formations offers insight into one scientist's perseverance and a look at the wonders of nature.
Finding Winnie - Before Winnie-the-Pooh, there was a real bear named Winnie. In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian on his way to tend horses in World War I, followed his heart and rescued a baby bear. He named her Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg, and he took the bear to war. Harry Colebourn's real-life great-granddaughter tells the true story of a remarkable friendship and an even more remarkable journey--from the fields of Canada to a convoy across the ocean to an army base in England... And finally to the London Zoo, where Winnie made another new friend: a real boy named Christopher Robin. Here is the remarkable true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh.
Illustrates the well-known American folk song about the courtship and marriage of the frog and the mouse.
Despite their elaborate preparations for the winter, the animals and birds are delighted by a surprise banquet after a big snow.
When the Czar proclaims that he will marry his daughter to the man who brings him a flying ship, the Fool of the World sets out to try his luck and meets some unusual companions on the way. The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship is the winner of the 1969 Caldecott Medal.
A hermit knows the magic to change a small mouse into a cat, a dog, and a majestic tiger -- and Marcia Brown's magical woodcuts bring this Indian fable to life with the mastery that won her her second Caldecott Medal.
Golem - Retold from traditional sources and accompanied by David Wisniewski's unique cut-paper illustrations, Golem is a dramatic tale of supernatural forces invoked to save an oppressed people. It also offers a thought-provoking look at the consequences of unleashing power beyond human control. The afterword discusses the legend of the golem and its roots in the history of the Jews. A Caldecott Medal Book.
Ox-cart Man - Describes the day-to-day life of an early nineteenth-century New England family throughout the changing seasons.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.
Many Moons - Though many try, only the court jester is able to fulfill Princess Lenore's wish for the moon.
Shadow: The Curious Morgan Horse introduces the characters of the award-winning Morgan Horse series to younger readers. Shadow is a young horse who is curious about everything. One day the farm's rooster tells her about a magic pond in the woods and Shadow wants to go find it. When a tree falls during a storm and knocks the fence down, Shadow takes the chance to go explore the woods. She searches for the pond and along the way meets many different forest animals. But when Shadow realizes she has become lost, how will she find her way home?