This list is dedicated to our friend Barb Hummel. Barb is one of those gorgeous, special people you feel lucky to meet in your life. She just makes everyone around her feel important and unique and wonderful.
I met her through my sister and like many of my sister’s gems, I’m going to claim her as mine too! She reminds my sister and I of our mom, and that is pretty awesome in itself.
Barb asked us what some of our all-time favorite books are for kids ages 3-6. Naming our favorites was easy; narrowing that list down to something manageable for a blog post was nearly impossible!
Lily, Jasper and I agreed on eleven. They are not in any particular order, and we could probably come up with fifty more of our favorites, that’s how much we love picture books, and how many amazing ones there are floating around in the world.
But for now, here are some we’ve loved for a long time. And even though Lily and Jasper are moving on to chapter books, these eleven books are still on our shelf today!
Eleven All-Time Favorite Picture Books!
1. Listen to My Trumpet! by Mo Willems
Every single book by Mo Willems is awesome!! But Elephant & Piggy, the two main characters in this series of books, are so much fun! They are silly, charming, and seem to always end on a beautiful note about friendship.
In this book, Piggy tries to impress Gerald with her trumpet playing, but the noise is so bad, Gerald doesn’t know what to do because he doesn’t want to hurt Piggy’s feelings.
For kids this age who are becoming more engaged in books and learning how to read, these books are unique with their simple but awesome illustrations, huge fonts, and easy words & phrases on each page. It’s hard to say which one is our favorite, but Listen to My Trumpet makes Jasper laugh every time we read it.
2. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Pictures by Oliver Jeffers
This book and its sequel are so clever and witty with each color crayon writing letters to their owner, Duncan. Some of the colors are thankful for their life, some whine, some request new things to color, two of the colors are even fighting over who should really get to color the sun.
At the end there’s a gorgeous drawing done in colors you might not think of, like orange for a whale and black for a rainbow. The final illustration is full of joy and makes us think that it’s okay to do things differently, sometimes it’s even brilliant!
3. Wag! by Patrick McDonnell
But Wag is all about love, and how Earl shows his love by wagging his tail. This book is pure love, it’s a wonderful tribute to dogs, and it’s simply beautiful. If you or your kids are animal lovers, this one is a keeper and will make you feel warm and fuzzy every time you read it.
4. A Bus Called Heaven by Bob Graham
A stranded abandoned bus appears in Stella’s front yard in her eclectic, busy, perhaps-not-so-safe neighborhood and brings Stella out of her shell. She decides to keep the bus and clean it up. Her neighbors gather to help her, and together they all create a cool, fun hang-out place where everyone is welcome, no matter your gender, race, religion, age, even dogs are welcome!
But then the bus gets towed away!!!! NO!
Open up the pages of this precious and fun adventure to see what the neighborhood, and especially Stella does, and see whether or not they get Heaven back.
The sparrows nesting in the engine of the bus are my absolute favorite part, that and watching Stella kick butt in table soccer! Go Stella!
5. LMNO Peas by Keith Baker
LMNO Peas is hands down the best, silliest alphabet book I’ve ever read! When they were younger and learning their letters, this book could keep my kids entertained forever! And the tiny peas riding their bikes, knitting, gardening, skateboarding, doing every day things are super cute.
See if you can find the ladybug on each page. If you love this book, there’s an entire series starring the peas!
6. The Scrambled States Of America by Laurie Keller
You’d think the states would be perfectly content where they are, nestled in, fitting perfectly together like a puzzle. Wrong! Kansas is sad and bored. Kansas wants adventure. So Kansas and her best friend, Nebraska, throw a party for all the states so they can all switch places.
Whoo – Wee!! Talk about a scrambled up mess. You might just giggle your butt off reading this book and discovering whether the states can ever put themselves back together or not. You’ll have so much fun, you might not even realize you’re learning! Again, there are more books and board games starring these goofy states.
Laurie Keller is awesome!!! I absolutely love a picture book that can entertain an adult as well as a child and Laurie Keller pulls it off!!
7. Lost & Found by Oliver Jeffers
A penguin arrives on the boy’s doorstep and the boy thinks of everything he can to get the poor penguin back to his home at the South Pole Only, the penguin doesn’t want to go home, he wants companionship. The moment when the boy realizes this is both poignant and lovely.
And Holy Cow! My favorite page is the last one, the illustration of looking down through the water over the whales, stunning!
8. Cars & Trucks & Things That Go! By Richard Scarry
Follow all the animals on their adventures in cars, in trucks, in all kinds of vehicles that go, and while you’re at it, see if you can find the small, gold bug on each page.
It’s a book, and it’s a puzzle, and it is so much fun!
9. Otis by Loren Long
With a broken heart, Otis becomes depressed and doesn’t know what to do, until one day his calf is stuck in the pond and the only one who can save her is Otis.
This is the first adventure for Otis, but he stars in many wonderful books, including one with a puppy, one with a tornado, and there’s even a Christmas adventure!
10. Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts
Iggy Peck loves to build, and he’ll use any materials he can get his hands on to build amazing structures. That is until he enters second grade and his teacher won’t let him build.
What’s a child to do now that he’s bored silly in class? Things are not going well for Iggy, until the class gets into a situation where they might need his stupendous smarts.
The story, along with the gorgeous illustrations, is bound to become a favorite of yours too!
And no list in the Ohlin house of favorite books would be complete with at least one of Calvin & Hobbes adventures.
11. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Calvin and Hobbes are hilarious, sarcastic, and full of life! Lily and Jasper love how Calvin uses big words and never wants to do his homework, and they love to see what schemes Hobbes comes up with to pounce on Calvin.
Any of the Calvin and Hobbes collections are wonderfully entertaining, and will provide you with hours of adventures with a little boy and his tiger.
We hope you enjoy our favorites and we’d love to know what yours are! Happy reading!