The Classic and The Modern

In 1928, Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag was published.  It was the first picture book launched in America and it would forev­er change the way in which text and illus­tra­tion relat­ed to one anoth­er.  Then in the 1930’s Margaret Wise Brown came along and wrote books with rhythm, rhyme, and repeti­tion.  And did you know that Where the Wild Things Are marked a turning point in children’s picture books? And did you know that Jack Ezra Keats’ Snowy Day stretched the bound­aries of art?

And let’s not forget Dr. Suess’ Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham, or Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik, and Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel.

And what about Harriet the Spy and The Outsiders and the impact of these books for middle grade and young adult readers during the 1960’s?

Whether you are new to writing children’s books, would like to read some of the classics or just want to compile a list of books to read, the list below should get you start­ed. The point is, whatev­er kind of children’s book you want to write, you need to read as much as you can in that format or genre. I’m sure there will be many memories here – books that you read as a child. What books had an impact on you?

These are books that I have read and recom­mend to you, ranging from classic to modern. This list is by no means compre­hen­sive, but check back often, I will be adding new books from time to time. And remem­ber there are links to various kinds of books all over this site. So explore and enjoy!

I will update this list whenev­er I can and if you are inter­est­ed in receiv­ing updates to this page or the website in gener­al, sign up for the RSS feed.  Otherwise check back often.

Picture Books


  • Art by Patrick McDonnel, Little, Brown and Company, 2006
  • Follow the Line by Laura Ljungkvist, Viking, 2006
  • Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski, Dutton, 2006
  • Scribbleville by Peter Holwitz, Philomel, 2005
  • The Aminal by Lorna and Lecia Balian, Star Bright, 2005
  • Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds, Bloomsbury, 2005
  • Mama Panya’s Pancakes by Mary and Rich Chamberlain, 2005
  • Wild About Books by Judy Sierra, Alfred A. Knopf, 2004
  • Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kenvin Henkes, HarperCollins, 2004
  • The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson, Dial Books, 2004
  • Something to Tell the Grandcows by Eileen Spinelli, 2004
  • Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner, Dutton, 2003
  • Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki, Kids Can Press, 2003
  • Don’t Wake Up the Bear! by Marjorie Dennis Murray, Marshall Cavendish, 2003
  • It’s Snowing by Olivier Dunrea, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2002
  • No Trouble at All by Sally Grindley, Bloomsbury, 2002
  • Down by the Cool of the Pool by Tony Mitton, Orchard, 2001
  • Fox Tale Soup by Tony Bonning, 2001
  • With Love, Little Red Hen by Alma Flor Ada, Atheneum, 2001
  • The Yellow Star by Carmen Agra Deedy, Peachtree, 2000
  • Raising Dragons by Jerdine Nolen, Silver Whistle, 1998
  • No, David! by David Shannon, Scholastic, 1998
  • How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World by Marjorie Priceman, Knopf, 1994
  • The Bootmaker and the Elves by Sudan Lowell, Orchard, 1997
  • Trouble by Jane Kurtz, Gulliver Books/Harcourt, 1997
  • Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes, Greenwillow, 1996
  • The Ghost of Nicholas Greebe by Tony Johnston, Dial Books, 1996
  • Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs, Dutton, 1994
  • The Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy, Peachtree, 1994
  • Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992
  • Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold, Crown, 1991
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, McElderry, 1989
  • Balloon Farm by Jerdine Nolen, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1989
  • A Place for Ben by Jeanne Titherington, Greenwillow, 1987
  • Grandaddy’s Place by Helen V. Griffith, Greenwillow, 1987
  • Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews, McElderry, 1986
  • The Boy Who Was Followed Home by Margaret Mahy, 1986
  • Flossie & the Fox by Patricia C. McKissack, Dial Books, 1986
  • The Very Worst Monster by Pat Hutchins, Greenwillow, 1985
  • The Paper Crane by Molly Bang, Greenwillow, 1985
  • We Can’t Sleep by James Stevenson, Greenwillow, 1982
  • The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins, Macmillan, 1974
  • Benjamin and Tulip by Rosemary Wells, Doubleday, 1973
  • Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham, Henry Holt, 1971
  • The Very Hungry Catepillar by Eric Carle, Philomel, 1969
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, HarperCollins, 1963
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Viking, 1962
  • Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban, HarperCollins, 1960
  • The Quiet Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown, HarperCollins, 1950
  • The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown, HarperCollins, 1949
  • Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, HarperCollins, 1947
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Harper, 1947
  • The Indoor Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown, HarperCollins, 1942
  • The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, HarperCollins, 1942
  • Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, The Viking Press, 1941
  • Snippy and Snappy by Wanda Ga’g, Coward-McCann, 1931/First University of Minnesota Press edition 2003
  • Wynken, Blynken and Nod by Eugene W. Field, Cartwheel Books
  • Millions of Cats by Wanda Ga’g, Coward-McCann, 1928

Middle Grade Novels

  • Year of No Rain by Alice Mead, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2003
  • A Cool Moonlight by Angela Johnson, Dial, 2003
  • The Window by Michael Dorris, Hyperion, 1997
  • The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman, Clarion, 1995
  • Words of Stone by Kevin Henkes, Greenwillow, 1992
  • The Goats by Brock Cole, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1987
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, HarperCollins, 1964
  • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, Doubleday, 1963
  • The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth, Little, Brown and Company, 1956
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Houghton Mifflin, 1937
  • Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 1932

Young Adult Novels

  • Scorpions by Walter Dean Myers, Harper, 1989
  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit, Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1975
  • The Pigman by Paul Zindel, Harper, 1968
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Viking, 1967
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