The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss
All these years later, Seuss’ 1957 masterpiece — about the havoc wrought by a giant cat on a rainy day — still maintains its quirky, thoroughly endearing charm.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin, Jr., illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Other alphabet books pale in comparison to this catchy-beat classic, in which the letters scramble to race each other to the top of a coconut tree. (”A told B and B told C/I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.”)
Corduroy, by Don Freeman
Few bears are as beloved as Corduroy, the tattered little department-store toy who lingers unsold because his overalls are missing a button.
Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd
If there’s one book that evokes childhood, it’s surely Brown’s soothing, melodic bedtime poem: ”In the great green room/There was a telephone/And a red balloon….” Who doesn’t remember looking for the mouse on every page?
Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson
In this gentle yet curiously powerful adventure, little Harold — armed with nothing save a chunky purple crayon — lets his imagination run free and draws himself into other worlds.
Moo, Baa, La La La!, by Sandra Boynton
No one does whimsical rhyming and silly pictures better than Boynton, and this ditty ranks as her catchiest and most addictive.
Mrs. Mustard's Baby Faces, by Jane Wattenberg
There are no words on this ingenious, strikingly simple accordion-style book, just pictures of babies’ faces — happy on one side, sad on the other. Yet looking at other babies, as this book proves, somehow keeps infants happy and engrossed, usually long enough for Mom or Dad to make dinner.
Pat the Bunny, by Dorothy Kunhardt
When it was first published in 1940, Pat the Bunny — one of the first interactive books — caused a sensation. All these years later, it no longer seems quite so remarkable, yet its sweet, simple appeal — looking into a mirror, touching Daddy’s scratchy face — still endears it to toddlers everywhere.
Peek-a Who?, by Nina Laden
Bright colors, irresistible rhymes, and the thrill of mystery — who’s going to be on the next page? — keep small ones coming back to this addictive little book again and again.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
Carle’s blocky, beautiful art follows a ravenous little caterpillar who munches his way through an enormous amount of food before encasing himself in a cocoon and emerging as a butterfly.