Picture Books to Share and Enjoy
Compiled by Lori Ragsdale
Anyone, at any age, can enjoy a picture book. The illustrations pull everyone into the story, bringing them into a fantasy or real-life adventure. Some picture books are wonderful to share in a read-aloud group with kids and adults enjoying the pictures and stories together. Others are good for individual reading. All these books are sure to excite readers of all ages.
Picture Books to Read Aloud
The Quiltmaker’s Gift, written by Jeff Brumbeau and illustrated by Gail De Marcken
This book about a greedy king and a wise, talented quiltmaker is filled with bright, detailed watercolor illustrations.
Beautiful Blackbird, written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan
Ashley Bryan won the 2004 Coretta Scott King Award for this book’s illustrations. Blackbird shares his gift of beauty with the other African birds and shows them that beauty comes from within.
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, illustrated by Simms Taback
As Joseph’s coat wears out, he cuts it down into smaller and smaller garments. The vivid watercolor and collage illustrations are punctuated with cutout holes of the worn cloth.
Zathura, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg
This sequel to Jumanji (see this issue’s Bookshelf) finds Danny and his brother, Walter, playing a new space game, Zathura. The boys’ adventures include encounters with meteor showers and a black hole, plus some time travel.
The Man Who Walked between the Towers, written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
Gerstein won the 2004 Caldecott Medal for his account of Philippe Petit’s high-wire performance between the World Trade Center towers in 1974. Ink and oil paintings done in lifelike perspective make you feel you are walking the wire with Petit.
Noah’s Ark, written and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Pinkney’s colored-pencil and watercolor illustrations in this 2003 Caldecott Honor Book are some of his finest ever. Pinkney tells the story with emotion and detail, relying on his illustrations to bring this Bible story to life. (See more books illustrated by Jerry Pinkney in this issue’s Bookshelf.)
Picture Books to Enjoy Alone
Uptown, written and illustrated by Bryan Collier
The colorful illustrations will make you feel as if you are taking a tour of Harlem and its sites.
The Spider and the Fly, written and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
This 2003 Caldecott Honor Book pays tribute to silent film. This poem sends its "beware of strangers" message through detailed, sometimes eerie black-and-white illustrations.
Almost to Freedom, written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrated by Colin Bootman
The story of slaves escaping via the Underground Railroad is told from the perspective of an enslaved child’s doll. Bootman uses shades of purple and brown to realistically portray the nighttime flight of the slaves.
Pink and Say, written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
This story about the Civil War is based on a story passed down in Polacco’s family. Polacco’s stories and vivid illustrations are often poignant and heartwarming.
Martin’s Big Words, written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier
Collier uses paint and cut-paper collage to portray the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. The illustrations are so dramatic and striking that you will feel drawn to each page.
The Three Pigs, illustrated by David Weisner
David Weisner won the Caldecott Medal in 2002 for his humorous (wordless) retelling of this popular folktale. Various artistic styles capture the pigs in a new light.