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10 Picture Books You Won’t Want to Return to the Library

One thing about being a parent is that you get to see all your flaws mirrored back to you in your child.

And if your child happens to not inherit all your other flaws, you might go ahead and have another child who will be certain to get any the first child missed.

A minor flaw that Ella has picked up from me is that she wants to check out ALL the library books when we go on our weekly trip and she NEVER wants to return any of them. I’ll ask her to go through her pile and she’ll select maybe one that can go back.

In order to make sure we have room on our cards to check out more picture books, I have to sneak books into a bag and then stealthily slip them into the book drop (heaven help me if she sees the cover of a book she didn’t want returned going down that one-way slot).

On more than one occasion, I’ve had to shamefacedly admit that no, that book wasn’t actually due, and then go ask the person in the return room to fish it out of the bin for me.

The good news is that I always have plenty of new titles to choose from when I put together a list of picture books.

Here are our current favorite picture books to check out! Return them to the library at your own risk.

picture books to check out

10 fantastic picture books to check out

That is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems –  Show me a child who doesn’t like Mo Willems, and I’ll show you a child who’s not really a child. I picked this one up before we went on our cruise and I think we read it at least 4 times a day while we were gone.

Moo! by David LaRochelle and Mike WohnoutkaIt’s a Tiger! has been a favorite book in our house for well over a year, so I wasn’t surprised when we fell immediately in love with this silly book. A cow finds a car for sale and goes joy-riding. The entire book is narrated with “Moos.” Listening to Ella read this to herself has me almost in tears of laughter every time.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead – I loved this story of a zookeeper who cares for his animal charges each day since before it won the Caldecott, and I was delighted when Ella picked up the CD version a few weeks ago. It’s such a sweet, calm story that I don’t mind listening to over and over again as we run errands.

Run, Dog! By Cécile Boyer – Right now, we’re in a tricky stage with Ella and Ani when it comes to books. Ella loves the longer picture books, while Ani is firmly a board book lover (happily, Ella will often indulge her and read her a board book over and over and over). This book about a dog chasing a ball (and almost no text) kept them both happy.

Zella, Zack, and Zodiac by Bill Peet – I don’t know that I’d actually ever read a Bill Peet picture book until Bridget recommended this one. And it was an instant hit. I loved this clever rhyming book about an orphaned ostrich chick rescued by a zebra.

Xander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park and Matt Phelan –  I’ve been a Linda Sue Park fangirl ever since I read A Single Shard back in 2007, and her picture books are just as good as her novels. This one, about a panda at the zoo struggling to figure out who to invite to his party, is one of her best.

Busy Bunny Days: In the Town, On the Farm & At the Port By Britta Teckentrup – This may be blasphemous, but I’ve never been much of a Richard Scarry fan. This book is a similar idea, with animals living in a town going about their daily lives with lots of details to pore over, but I like the illustrations much better in this one. For WEEKS, this was Ella’s choice whenever either Bart or I offered to read her a story.

Mr. Duck Means Business by Tammi Sauer and Jeff Mack – Duck likes his peace and quiet at the pond. And his arsenal of signs warning the other animals to KEEP OUT make it clear he wants to keep it that way. But. . .could that get a little lonely?

Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons by Jon J Muth – I have to admit, I haven’t been blown away by Muth’s Zen books, but when I saw this on a recommended list, I figured I’d give it a try. And. . . it was the most beautiful books. I kind of wanted to weep a little at the end, it was just so sweet and beautiful.

Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas – Do you know Jan Thomas? Never mind finishing this post. Just go request everything she’s written and laugh yourself silly. Bart and I both love reading this one aloud.

And if you’d like a printable copy of this list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!

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  1. We read moo at the library a couple weeks ago! Kyle was quite the fan to say the least!

  2. Oh, I know all too well having to sneak books back to the library, mostly due to my three-year-old. He likes to put books down the return chute but, without fail, there will be one book he will clutch to his chest and say, "This one stays at our house." About a week ago I had to take 'The Dark' (by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen) to the outside drop-off box after he went to bed because we couldn't renew it again.

    You always have such great book lists — thanks or all the wonderful ideas, from one bibliophile to another. 🙂

  3. We love 'Moo' at our house, too. 'Run, Dog' came home from the library yesterday, and has already been read multiple times. Another book with minimal words that we have really enjoyed recently is 'Momo and Snap are NOT friends' by Airlie Anderson.

  4. The boy isn't old enough to care about returning books, but I always feel super guilty returning books he is currently loving. I wish we could own ALL the books. We love Amos McGee in this house. The boy is pretty hit or miss with Mo Willems (he doesn't like pigeon at all), but we both enjoyed That is Not a Good Idea.

    We are currently really enjoying: Go Away Big Green Monster! and 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo.

  5. Has anyone read any Bob Graham books? Like How to Heal a Broken Wing? The illustrations are so beautiful!

  6. I can't recommend Jan Thomas enough. The Easter Bunny's Assistant is hysterical. We read it over and over again last week. I teach first grade and have 2 little guys at home. Love all your suggestions! Thanks for getting us out of our Sandra Boynton rut. (We do love her though).

  7. Well, I love love love Jon J Muth (at least Zen Shorts). The paintings are incredible. But Mo Willems is always a favorite! I'm trying to buy everything by him for the library. He's the new Dr. Seuss. Have you read Extra Yarn? It may have made me cry during a story time. Twice.

  8. We read Bee Bim Bop by Linda Sue Park at least 3 times a week…and we've owned it for years! The Panda Party looks like another one my boys will love-thanks for the recommendation!

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