Picture Book Authors You Can Always Count On

Jennie Nash

Author of Raising a Reader: A Mother’s Tale of Desperation and Delight


Also see Jennie’s recommendations for
Picture Books That Are Just Plain Fun to Read Aloud

You can go to these authors in the library or the bookstore, take home anything they’ve written, and be very happy with your choice. There are dozens of other such authors, and it’s fun for kids to take ownership of a few for themselves — which is why you should always say the name of the author before you read a story. Odds are that the kids will put two-and-two together about who’s written which book long before you do.

Cynthia Rylant has got to be the most prolific modern children’s book author, and I am very happy she is. All of her books are written with style, humor, and honesty. They seem to go straight to the heart of what’s important in a young kid’s life. There’s Henry and Mudge and the Mr. Putter and Tabby series and Poppleton, but don’t miss When I Was Young in the Mountains or Dog Heaven.

We don’t even have a dog, but Dog Heaven has become one of the most important theological texts in our home. My kids and I share a vision because of this book — that heaven is a place where you come into the fullness of your being and get all your favorite treats besides.

Maurice Sendak: I think everything Sendak touches is considered a classic. In the Night Kitchen, Chicken Soup with Rice, Alligators All Around, Where the Wild Things Are. . . the list goes on and on.

Robert McCloskey: McCloskey is the Norman Rockwell of picture books. His stories are all so simple and straightforward, evoking times that seem infinitely reassuring. Blueberries for Sal, One Morning in the Maine, and Lentil have all been well thumbed in our household.

Rosemary Wells: The McDuff books are adorable; Max and all his pals are adorable; Wells’s Mother Goose and Rodgers and Hammerstein books are adorable. Even when she’s not adorable — as in the gorgeous retelling of Lassie — Rosemary Wells is fabulous.

Richard Scarry: His big books, The Very Best Word Book Ever and What Do People Do All Day? as well as some of the smaller stories, have probably been held more hours, overall, than any other book in our house. The characters are sweet, the stories goofy, and the words clearly written next to each illustration. Both my kids learned to count by the illustrations on the inside covers.

About Raising a Reader by Jennie Nash

Raising a Reader gives an inside look at what it’s really like in a home where kids are learning to read — and it’s not always pretty. If you’re in the business of passing on a love of books, this is the book for you! Read a chapter at www.jennienash.com.

Raising a Reader is Jennie’s third book. She’s also written articles and essays for scores of national magazines. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, their two girls and lots and lots of books!

From Raising a Reader © Jennie Nash 2003. Reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Press and available wherever books are sold.