Canon of American Children’s Picture Books

8 October 2014


(Photo above is my child’s reading corner which consists of both Dutch and English books. This is only a fraction of the books he has.)


Inspired by the 60th anniversary of Kinderboekenweek (Children’s Book Week), I thought I could share some “American” children’s picture books. As an American mom raising my son in the Netherlands, it was important for me to teach him about my culture and give him a sense of an American childhood. One of the best ways I knew how was to start reading to him from birth children’s picture books that are close to my heart. I always look forward to sharing the same stories with him that brought me so much joy, the pictures that colored my imagination and the simple, visceral comfort of holding him close to me while we read. While his toys are kept to a minimum, I am utterly convinced that one could never have too many books. And though we’ve had more than our fair share of torn, ripped pages and tears shed (mine, not his), I wouldn’t do it any other way.


In the spirit of sharing (I am a mommy blogger after all), I decided to share my list with my wonderful readers. Educators, pediatricians, psychologists and other childhood specialists have been emphasizing for years how essential it is to read to children from birth. Like any other well-meaning parent (especially first time pregnant moms) taking in all the unsolicited advice can be overwhelming. That’s wonderful that reading is encouraged, but where does one start? And because of my own experience as a child of Filipino immigrant parents, I know that a little bit of guidance and direction would be appreciated.


Consider this list as my personal take on the American children’s picture book canon – a compilation of thirty books that are popularly regarded as important and influential in shaping American culture and identity. Keep in mind that these books are for the six and under crowd (kindergarden, preschool and those young at heart like me). Some of the books aren’t even “American” but embraced nonetheless as what Americans do best. And as many of my non-American readers can attest to, a lot of these books are also translated in several languages (such as Dutch). It is definitely not complete and a challenge to limit, but at least it’s a solid start.


Here is Finding Dutchland’s Canon of American Children’s Picture Books (in no particular order):



1. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

3. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

4. The Tale Of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter



5. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

6. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker

7. Press Here by Herve Tullet

8. The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt



9. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

10. The Polar Express: Mini Edition by Chris Van Allsburg

11. Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

12. The Snowy Day (Picture Puffin) by Ezra Jack Keats



13. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.

14. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson

15. Olivia by Ian Falconer

16. The Cat in the Hat: Green Back Book (Dr Seuss – Green Back Book) by Dr. Seuss



17. [ Oh, the Places You’ll Go Pop-Up! (Anniversary)[ OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO POP-UP! (ANNIVERSARY) ] By Dr Seuss ( Author )Mar-09-2010 Hardcover by Dr. Seuss

18. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

19. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

20. The Little Engine That Could (Platt & Munk Classics) by Watty, Pseud Piper and illustrated by George Hauman and Doris Hauman



21. Madeline byLudwig Bemelmans

22. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie: Extra Sweet Edition (If You Give…Book) by Laura Joffe Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond

23. Guess How Much I Love You (Little Favourites) by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram

24. Harold and the Purple Crayon (Essential Picture Book Classics) by Crockett Johnson



25. A Treasury of Curious George by H. A. Rey and Margret Rey

26. Corduroy by Don Freeman

27. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

28. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle



29. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

30. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein



P.S. Please forgive me if I left out any of the books that you guys believe should be part of this list. For a more comprehensive list, take a look at the Kindergarten Canon consisting of 100 books (definitely some overlap).


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