"Ten Picture Books You Must Read Before You Die," by Ty Hulse
Picture books are fun and brilliant works of literature, or at least they can be. As with all books there are some great ones some ok ones and some really bad ones. These are ten of the greatest for children and adults. Stories which you must read and see the visual narrative of, for they are wonderfully touching stories, beautiful, or just plain funny. These are not necessarily the ten best picture books they are however ten of the best visual narratives with stories you will cherish forever.
Blueberries For Sal by Robert McCloskey
A fantastic visual narrative and well written text makes this one of the greatest picture books of all time. It tells a simple story of a mother and child picking berries and meeting a pair of bears. The simplicity of the story is what makes it work so well as a short story, and what makes it so appealing.
Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Another McCloskey story, this book even has a statue dedicated to it in Boston, for it tells the story of a family of ducks living in this city in a wonderful and whimsical way.
A Letter to Amy by Jack Keats
The story of a boy who for the first time wants to invite a girl to his birthday, and the difficulty of mailing the letter himself. Jack Keats had a special ability to discuss the common concerns of children in ways that made his stories unique.
Floatsom by David Wiesner
Wiesner is perhaps the most imaginative creator of children's literature today. With three Caldecott medals he is a must see, for his stories are often only visual narrative with no or little text. Floatsom is the story of a boy who discovers a camera in the ocean, and of the magical world that the camera shows him, from aliens to mermaid kingdoms this book take the viewer into a lavishly illustrated and imaginative journey.
Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth
A fun picture book it provides a number of Chinese Parables in a way that is fun and unique. It all begins when a Panda Bear moves in next door to three children (he speaks with a slight panda accent) and the friendship the develops between them.
Doctor De Soto by William Steig
The story of a mouse dentist who takes on a fox as a patient, and the game of fox and mouse between them as Dr. De Soto (the mouse) avoids being eaten.
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
With beautiful illustrations, this book tells the story of the man who discovered the photographic techniques for taking pictures of snowflakes.
Repunzel by Paul O. Zelansky
With stunningly beautiful illustrations done in the Renaissance style this picture book tells the favorite fairy tale story as nothing else before has been able to.
Jumangi by Chris Van Allsburg
Thanks to the movies based on his books Allsburgs stories are well known of, even if they are not well known themselves. His art is so hyper real and well rendered as to appear almost dreamlike. "Jumangi" tells the story of a brother and sister that find a magical board game that brings the jungle and all its creatures crashing through their home.
Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
A post modern style picture book that plays with the third wall both in its illustrations and its text. For example the acknowledgments page includes the narrator saying that no one reads the acknowledgments anyways so he just wrote them upside down. He goes on to tell the reader that "if you want to read them you can just stand on your head." If one is reading this book with a child it might be fun to actually stand on ones head to read these.
These are just a few of the great picture books that exist and it is important to always look for more, because beautiful and fun visual narratives are something we should never grow out of.
About the author: Ty Hulse has degrees in both art and psychology, and has used them to help create many educational materials for children. Currently he is running the website http://www.discoverpicturebooks.com which discusses picture books.
Hulse's website has a wonderful list of children's book stores HERE.
She also has a helpful list of picture book publishers HERE.