Maybe it is just me, but I get annoyed at the mass quantity of low quality children’s books. I am not talking about a sturdy binding and thick paper, but horrible mass produced art with mind-numbing writing. Consequently, I spent hours searching for beautiful children’s books. I’m not very strict about what Katherine and Daniel read: I let them read the books that I am complaining about anyway. However, I do like to slip into their little library (a nice way of saying stacks of books crammed into a bookshelf) books that are beautiful and well-written. Please note that I am using Amazon affiliate links below.
One of my top favorites is Brambly Hedge. The illustrations are extremely detailed and the stories are well thought out. It is about adventures of little mice who wear gorgeous Victorian clothing. It is basically the book of my dreams. We got the whole collection in one 248 page book. Katherine has spent hours reading it.
Another favorite is A Brighter Garden which features art by Tasha Tudor and selected poems by Emily Dickinson. I don’t think it has been reprinted for a while, but it is still easy to find used books, especially on Amazon.
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson with illustrations by Gyo Fujikawa is another lovely book. As you can tell by the title, it is a collection of poetry. Is there any better way to introduce poetry than with the beautiful work of Stevenson?
Miss Rumphius is quite possibly my most favorite children’s story, ever. It tells the tale of a woman’s life and how she spent her last years planting lupine in every place that she could throw seeds. Both the writing and the art are sublimely beautiful.
The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers has very detailed art. Each page is filled with lovely Victorian illustrations. Jeffers explains that she was inspired to create this book because of the dearth (at the time) of texts about the Nutcracker written for children. Consequently, the text is easy for children to understand.
Maja Dusikova illustrated the sweetest version of Sleeping Beauty that I’ve ever seen. The text is by Brothers Grimm, though I believe it has been edited for children. I haven’t read the original version by the Brothers Grimm, but as their work is often gruesome and this book isn’t, I’m assuming it is edited, though the copyright information isn’t clear.
So far these have all been picture books. I’ll Meet You at the Cucumbers makes this list because of its genius way of introducing poetry to children. It is a short chapter book that is suitable for grades 2-3. Katherine has bookmarked her favorite poem:
I loved my friend
He went away from me.
There’s nothing more to say,
The poem ends,
Soft as it began—
The Hobbit (Illustrated Edition)
If you want an easier way to introduce Tolkien to your children, check out Bilbo’s Last Song. It has absolutely lovely illustrations that retell Bilbo’s adventures while he journeys to the Grey Havens.
Lastly, while you have almost certainly heard of Little Women, have you seen the Puffin in Bloom edition? The cover art is by Anna Bond from Rifle Paper Co. It is one of the most lovely book covers that I own. Thankfully, my old copy of Little Women was destroyed or lost- I was very happy to replace it with this beautiful edition.
Daniel discovered that this was a fetching way to walk around the house with his books.