Librarians’ List: 25 Picture Book Retro Reads

We’ve been spending quite a bit of time this month looking at newer picture books–many of them published in 2013. But today we’re taking a look back to some favorite Retro Reads (published before 2000).*

*You might think of retro reads as the books you could check out back when you used a card catalog!

The books below are in no particular order and many will be recognizable to you. The best way to learn about picture books is to read them! These books have delighted children for generations–and still delight them. These authors and illustrators below have many great books to their name; if your library doesn’t have the particular one listed, check out another. See below the list for a printable list.

  1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  2. Ox-Cart Man by Barbara Cooney
  3. George and Martha (series) by James Marshall
  4. Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain by Edward Ardizzone
  5. Fortunately by Remy Charlip
  6. Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban
  7. Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins
  8. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
  9. The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone (LOTS of folktales)
  10. Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard
  11. The Little House and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
  12. The One and Only Shrek and Yellow and Pink by William Steig
  13. Little Bear (series) by Else Holmelund Minarik
  14. Can I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Shenk de Regniers
  15. Heckedy Peg and The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood
  16. Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss
  17. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
  18. Little Nutshell Library by Maurice Sendak
  19. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  20. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  21. Papa Small books by Lois Lenski
  22. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  23. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  24. Four Frogs in a Box by Mercer Mayer (also done separately as A Boy, A Dog, and a Frog and others)
  25. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Printable: RedeemedReader Picture Book Retro Reads

 We could make this list much longer, but now it’s your turn–what did we miss?

What are some of YOUR longtime favorites?

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Betsy is the Managing Editor at Redeemed Reader. When she reads ahead for you, she uses sticky notes instead of book darts and willfully dog ears pages even in library books. Betsy is a fan of George MacDonald, robust book discussions, and the Oxford comma. She lives with her husband and their three children in the beautiful Northwest.


  1. Cathy on November 16, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Great list!

    Some others favorites in our home are:
    Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
    Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
    The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
    Blossom Comes Home, The Market Square Dog and others by James Herriot, illus Ruth Brown
    * note two books in the set (James Herriot’s Treasury for Children)have another illustrator, not nearly as good!
    Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
    Corduroy by Don Freeman
    People and Noah’s Ark by Peter Spier
    A Is For Annabelle and 1 Is One by Tasha Tudor
    Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinski
    Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Loe Lionni
    The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
    Miss Fannie’s Hat by Jan Karon
    Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
    Hedgie’s Surprise by Jan Brett

    Our favorite William Steig book is Doctor Desoto and our favorite Virginia Lee Burton book is Choo-Choo.

    Richard Scarry is always a favorite here too. He is his own category in picture books.

  2. Betsy on November 18, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Thanks for adding to our list, Cathy! We had a hard time narrowing it down, to be sure. You’ll see Rapunzel pop up in detail soon, and I referenced Spier’s Noah’s Ark in my wordless book post Friday (it’s one of my faves!!). You may also have seen some of the titles you mentioned above appear in Megan’s How NOT to Read a Picture Book :-). We try to work mention of some of these in whenever we can!

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