My eldest daughter Lucy loved pulling books from the little shelf in our apartment living room as a toddler. She would sit with them tucked between her chubby knees and turn the pages continually. The books began to tear from her daily routine. My first instinct was to put them high where she could not reach them so they could be preserved for her future siblings.
It took me a few years–and two more children–to realize that often the best picture books are the ones that end up torn, taped, re-taped, and broken at the binding from being opened so many times. They are the ones that end up in my lap for the tenth day in a row with the words, “Mama, book?”
Here is a list of books that have been beloved by my toddler-aged children (you better believe I have these memorized!):
Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes by Beatrix Potter, also Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes
Are You My Mother?by P.D. Eastman
Blue on Blueby Dianne White
Blueberries for Salby Robert McCloskey
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
Caps for Saleby Esphyr Slobodkina
Corduroyby Don Freeman
Diggers Goby Steve Light
Freight Trainby Donald Crews
The Gingerbread Boyby Paul Galdone
Going to Sleep on the Farmby Wendy Cheyette Lewison
Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
Goodnight Moonby Margaret Wise Brown
Harold and the Purple Crayonby Crockett Johnson
Have You Seen My Duckling?by Nancy Tafuri
The House in the Nightby Susan Marie Swanson
I am a Bunnyby Richard Scarry
If You Give a Mouse a Cookieby Laura Numeroff
Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?by Nancy Carlstrom
The Little Engine that Couldby Watty Piper
Madelineby Ludwig Bemelmans
Make Way for Ducklingsby Robert McCloskey
Moo, Baa, La La La!by Sandra Boynton
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss
My First Counting Bookby Lilian Moore
My First Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (poetry)
My Very First Mother Gooseby Iona Opie
The Napping Houseby Audrey & Don Wood
1 is Oneby Tasha Tudor
Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow
A Picnic with Monet by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober, and others in the “Mini Masters” series
Poems to Read to the Very Youngby Josette Frank, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin
Prayer for a Childby Rachel Field
Put Me in the Zooby Robert Lopshire
Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Everby Richard Scarry
Hello! My name is Lauren Williams. Welcome to Beloved Bookshelf.
My deep love of literature began at Hillsdale College, where I met professors and students who treated books not as something to be used or delighted in merely, but as the gift and treasure they are to our human flourishing. I ended up majoring in English, soaking up every class I could on the literary classics.
When I became a mother, I couldn’t wait to share my love of literature with my children. I had difficulty at first finding quality children’s books (choosing at random from the library bookshelf was unsuccessful), but then a friend directed me to John Senior’s booklist.
This list was exactly what I had been looking for. Seeing the delight in my children’s eyes as we read Winnie-the-Pooh and the Beatrix Potter tales, hearing the questions they began asking, and observing how their imaginations grew was incredibly motivating. I began spending hours searching for other resources and combing booklists, determined to find the best children’s literature I could. Other parents expressed their interest in the titles I was finding and the seed for this blog was planted.
Over the past two years, I have checked out and reviewed hundreds of books with the hope that I could bring you these booklists. They are far from finished, but I hope they can begin to bridge the gap for other parents and educators searching for quality literature.
Here are my criteria for what makes a children’s book a real treasure:
What I desire most for this blog is that these books will make their way into your library bag or on your bookshelves and that you enjoy them as much as we do! I would also be grateful if you shared your family’s favorite titles so we can help each other find the best children’s literature has to offer our families.
Thank you so much for visiting!
About the name: I chose “Beloved Bookshelf” as a nod to an old habit I have of lining up my most beloved books on a shelf. Although my family does not own all of these titles, they would be lovingly lined up on a shelf (or shelves😉).