5 Ways to Pick Picture Books for Kids

Picture books are a great way to introduce reading to your children, and have fun with voices and storytelling. Author Nili Yelin, also known as “The Storybook Mom shares tips for picking a great picture book for kids.

Cover then Discover

Don’t judge a book by its cover but the cover should attract you with an interesting design and title. The cover should make you want to pick up the book to know more.

Questions to ask: Do the words and pictures go together–do they play together well? Do you want to turn to the next page? Do the words have a strong rhythm, do the pictures capture your imagination?

Example:  Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Voice and Choice

Does the author have a strong voice/point of view? Do the words create a real environment and do the pictures create a world of depth and levels?

Does the story create a chance for questions, discovery and interaction for you and the child as you read it?

Example: One by Kathryn Otoshi

Teach, Don’t Preach

Does the story teach something through action and experience? Doesn’t hit you over the head but has lessons incorporated organically in the events that take place.

Example: Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and also her book, Cookies

Create and Relate

Does the book offer tools to help child navigate their world? Safety, comfort, help them deal with their fears? As Pam Allyn, president of Lit World says, does it “fortify them with words”?

Example: Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley

Dreams, not Screams

This one is for the grownups who are reading and sharing these books with children: Is this a story you could read over and over and over and stay interested and enthusiastic about–the best test for a picture book is when you are done you hear “AGAIN, AGAIN, AGAIN……”

Example: Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

The Storybook Mom’s Top 10 Picture Book Picks….

Pete’s A Pizza by William Steig

Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Cookies by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

One by Kathryn Otoshi

Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

Gingerbread Boy by Richard Egielski

Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch

The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell

For more great reading recommendations for kids, visit The Reading Kingdom’s Great Books for Kids page.

About the Author


Nili Yelin, known as The Storybook Mom is a Chicago based children’s storyteller who performs “sit down, stand up” interactive stories for kids of all ages. She has been called “the best storyteller in these parts” by Time Out Chicago Magazine, “a local treasure” by Make It Better Magazine and she hosts the Kids Stage at the Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest each June. www.storybookmom.com