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Picture Books for Children Fiction, Folktales, and Poetry

Picture Books for Children Fiction, Folktales, and Poetry

Product Summery


The purpose of this book is to present some of the best children's picture books for use in the classroom, library, or home. What an enjoyable experience it was to select these works, reading or rereading many picture books, and experiencing the beauty of the words and the art.

The scope of the book includes fiction, poetry, and folktales/fairy tales. Nonfiction or informational picture books are not included, although fictionalized versions of historical events and lives are. If there was any doubt, I checked the Cataloging-in-Publication data and noted the Library of Congress subject headings to ensure that "Juvenile Fiction" was the subheading.

The books are intended for four- to eight-year-olds, although some indicate a younger or older age. Age designations, like reading levels, are guidelines only. Your child or class may enjoy certain books at age three, ten, or older.

The selected books were in print as of the writing and span the years from 2000 to 2011, with the majority published in the last five years. The books are hardcover unless specified as available only in paperback or library binding.

The audience for this book includes K–3 teachers, librarians in schools and public libraries, preservice teachers and librarians taking children’s literature courses, daycare center teachers, parents and grandparents, homeschooling parents, other caregivers, and writers and aspiring writers who are interested in picture books. I hope that those in this audience will find the annotations helpful in selecting quality books for programming, classroom use, one-on-one sharing, and inspiration for books of the future.

I selected books from the many I read to show the wide variety of styles in art and story, to feature a broad range of authors and illustrators, to portray worldwide diversity, to provide a balance of female and male main characters, and to show the many subjects in picture books written to engage children. I included some of the books that have won awards recognizing excellence in picture books, including the Caldecott Medal, the Coretta Scott King Book Award, the Schneider Family Book Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, the Christopher Award, the Charlotte Zolotow Award, the Golden Kite Award, the Sydney Taylor Book Award, and the Américas Book Award. Books published in Canada are included, as well as books written for children in foreign countries—Japan, France, Germany, and others—before appearing in the United States.

Several alphabet books fall within the scope of this book. A classic subgenre of picture books, the best ones are clever, beautiful, surprising, or all of these. Some, such as Gennady Spirin’s A Apple Pie, are classic. Others, like Yuyi Morales’s Just in Case, feature an alphabet within the story.

I included poetry, although it is not strictly defined as fiction. Several of the books that feature poems, such as Oh, Brother! by Nikki Grimes, could also be considered fiction because they tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end and develop their characters. Quality picture books classified as poetry will, besides offering a pleasurable listening experience, aid in the appreciation of language, which helps children develop reading and writing skills.

Folktales, fairy tales, and other stories based on the oral traditions or traditional literature of countries are a natural fit for picture books. This book contains one chapter devoted to these tales. I included a variety of types of tales, including those from other countries and cultures.

It is my hope that the readers of this book will find many titles to read to children and to select for, or borrow from, the library. Teachers and librarians, of course, know the value of libraries and the importance of supporting public libraries and school libraries. Aspiring writers must read to learn their craft and so are usually big library supporters. Parents and caregivers in the know realize what a treasure their libraries are.

Might I also include a plea to support your independent bookstore when you purchase books for your personal library? These local businesses make our cities unique and culturally vibrant. And if your city is home to a children’s bookstore, so much the better! Here in Kansas City, Missouri, we are fortunate to have the Reading Reptile, a treasure for the region.

A hearty thank you goes to the Mid-Continent Public Library, whose employees at my local branch and throughout the system helped with a constant stream of interlibrary loan books. I could not have written this book without you.

Thank you, too, to the librarians and teachers who talked to me about books. It is always a pleasure to discuss picture books with professionals and to trade suggestions of favorites.

I would like to thank my editor at ALA Editions, Stephanie Zvirin. She is a joy to work with and is unfailingly upbeat and encouraging, no matter how many questions I ask. I must also thank Patricia J. Cianciolo, the author of four previous editions of Picture Books for Children published by the American Library Association, who paved the way for this book. Her books were a guidepost and an inspiration to me. And finally, my deep appreciation goes to Crockett Johnson, author of Harold and the Purple Crayon, and Maj Lindman, author of the Flicka, Ricka, Dicka books. These are my earliest memories of picture books and among my favorite books as a child. From these and other books in the children’s section of the public library, I learned to love books and reading, school and learning, and, eventually, teaching and writing. Like all good picture books, their work lives on