Here you’ll remember classics like Where The Wild Things Are, and you’ll discover treasures like Dragons Love Tacos, for kids and parents to flip for. Let us know your favorites too! This list of outstanding children’s books is curated by the team at Wild Family, with help from friends like you.
“I Want My Hat Back” – The Movie!
Click Here to view the “I Want My Hat Back” movie.
“Dragons Love Tacos” – Storytime
Click Here to view the “Dragons Love Tacos” book reading.
“I Am Yoga” – Storytime
Click Here to view the “I Am Yoga” book reading.
“New Family Favorites” – Best Children’s Books Of The Past Few Years
Wow. Just wow. This book continues to deliver the laughs, even after 100+ reads. One of the elements that makes it great is the invitation to speak in the animals voices of a sorrowful bear, a stuck turtle, a hyper rabbit, and tons more fun. The follow-up book is This Is Not My Hat, another one of our favorites.
We love our tacos here in Austin. Dragons love them even more. This book proves that dragons and tacos belong together. Salsa on the side please. Author Adam Rubin autographed our copy, and then our 1-year-old, Gabriel, found a pen and added his signature doodles.
What happens when a grumpy goat meets a wonderful unicorn? Jealousy. Spite. Whimsy. Winning! This is our favorite among the dozens of fantastic books by Bob Shea, filled with high energy and offbeat characters.
A honey bee realizes her destiny when she learns about a lily on the verge of extinction. She’ll do everything in her power to pollinate the flower: dashing past frog tongues, zooming through lightning storms, and climbing a mountain on her way to save the day. So much love went into the making of this book, we insist this is a special one.
“Notable Classics” – The All-Time Greatest Children’s Books
Max is king of the Wild Things and enjoys a playful romp. To me, the best part is the 6-page section without words, where the wild things go ape, in a monster soundscape. I think it’s an invitation to howl and sing alongside them. We have a couple of Maurice Sendak’s books in our collection, including the extraordinary In The Night Kitchen.
Here’s an early treasure from the author and illustrator famous for the Little Critter series. I received this book as a gift for my first birthday. I hesitated at first to share this one with my kids, because of some spooky illustrations. The imagery is mesmerizing.
This wonderful one keeps me wondering. When it was first gifted to me, a friend added her own precious words and color splashes to personalize the book for me. Such a treat! I think of this as a gift. Truly a beautiful gesture to give a friend a book about friendship.
A bunny in a bright green room says goodnight to the three little bears sitting on chairs, to the clocks and his socks, to the mittens and the kittens… The sun sets. The room goes dark. The moon rises. The kids rest gently in the room lit softly, and quickly we all fall asleep.
Birds, insects, fish, and mammals work together to try and classify the main character, called the Scroobious Pip, who is hooved, feathered, fish-tailed, and antennaed all at once. This book gives homage to the animal kingdom, with rich illustrations and lush poetry.
“Visionary Storytelling” – Astonishing Feats In Imagination And Artistry
A girl shares her love for desert life in a celebration of the human spirit. Wild animals in dreamy landscapes meet poetry as powerful as the images are, as the girl shares visions of triple rainbows, dancing whirlwinds, and feelings of admiration.
A boy who loves to draw gets his creative spirit shaken when his older brother makes a reckless remark. His sister saves the day, appreciating the boy’s artwork, and opening the boy’s eyes to something special.
Every painting in this book is worthy of framing, and displaying in a museum, and admiring for ages. This is the story of the mysterious nature of rainbows, and the goblins who once tried to rob the world of its “delicious” colors.
Rites of passage are great occasions for this book, from nursery school to nursing school, marking any transition with a celebration of the forks in the road, and the possibilities galore. Glorious possibilities await, and Dr. Seuss keeps the journey exuberant.
We cherish this book about a tiger who suspects he is spooking the other animals in his jungle. We read it often. When our son, Daniel, was 3-years-old, he could read this book, through memorization. Author and illustrator Keith Baker attended art school with “Grandpa Terry,” and so our copy of this book is autographed.
A little cloudlet practices her cloud formations, sculpting the beauty she sees in the world below: elephants, boats, and other earthly objects that inspire her. While other little cloudlets focus on otherworldly cloud formations, this one desires nothing more than to decorate the sky with the shapes of animals she admires in our world.
Celebrating the countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine, this book is based on a true story. The real Miss Rumphius is colloquially known as the Lupine Lady, who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went. This story extends her legacy. And the illustrations are exquisite. We are happy to report that the artwork in this book is permanently displayed in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.
In The Little Leaf That Wouldn’t Fall Little Wolf wonders why a little leaf refuses to fall from its tree, even after winter arrives. Eventually, Big Wolf decides to climb high up in the tree and investigate. This is a sweet story about two friends and the many ways in which friendship teaches patience, boldness, and love.
Of all the artworks in all the world, the words and imagery of Brian Andreas appear on the walls of our friends’ homes more often than any other artist I can remember. There’s something about his storytelling that strums the heartstrings. This collection of 130 original stories and illustrations explore the fragility of life, ranging from heartbreak to hilarity.
All quiet is not created equal. Here’s a collection of various levels of quiet, from the shocked-into-silence of a new hairstyle to the anticipation-heavy silence of a rollercoaster ride. There is a certain tenderness in the animals, in their situations, and in their expressions that stirs the emotions in a beautiful way, while working wonders to create a sense of calm.
“Tiny Treats” – Beloved Books For The Littlest Book Lovers
One of my earliest memories is the experience of paging through this book with my mom. The Very Hungry Caterpillar holds a special place in my heart. I recognize excellent artistry in the illustrations. Often times, when I admire children’s book illustrations, I like to imagine how an artist creates the artworks. Looking closely, I can see vivid paper cutouts with interesting textures that keep me imagining.
Two kids climb a hill and plant some mysterious seeds. Up grows a wonderful flowering vine, out of which emerges a wonderful white bear—Wonder Bear. This is a picture book with a distinct storyline, inviting us to interpret the illustrations a new way each time.
This book arrived in our lives along with a stuffed animal of Pete the Cat. Our Pete knows karate, but that’s a different story. In this one, Pete’s white shoes keep changing color as he steps in piles of strawberries, blueberries, and other big messes.
Harold brings his oversized purple crayon on an artistic adventure into the unknown. He draws a boat for himself when he finds deep water. He sketches a pie when he feels hunger pangs. He lets his imagination run free and purple.
Tiny Pie is a real treat for our youngest, Gabriel, who seems to relate with the story of a little elephant feeling out of place at a party for grownups. We first found this book at the Austin Public Library. We are frequent flyers there, often checking out 20 books at a time. It’s such a blessing having access to all of these brilliant books. It’s a blast reading a book for the first time, and the library allows us to do so every night.
“Spirit Of Adventure” – Wild Animal Encounters, and All That Action
Beyond the beautiful animals in the artwork is the story of a jungle at war, with a moral wake-up call suitable for all ages. And wow, the illustrations are astonishing. The imagery is hand-crafted by some kind of a printmaking technique, like dual-layered hand-cut linoleum prints, or something. I am in awe.
This is the second book we’ve seen from the stellar illustrator, Benjamin Chaud. It’s one of those books with pictures you can look into forever, like Where’s Waldo, but more adorable. The story and illustrations follow Papa Bear chasing Little Bear from a snowy city to a tropical island, with sea-inspired surprises.
In this sentimental story, a young bear finds a piano abandoned in the forest. He teaches himself to play. One day, his talent is discovered by a father and son who are picnicking in the woods. He moves into the city to pursue fame and fortune, eventually finding his place of belonging.
Droofus is a dragon with a price on his head, but the boy who befriends him refuses to sell him to the king. We received a number of Bill Peet’s books as a wedding present—woohoo, thanks Joel! Each book is a gift for sure. This is my personal fave. FYI, Bill Peet is a long-time illustrator for Disney, and I can see the uncanny resemblance in the squirrels of Bill Peet’s books, compared to the squirrels of The Sword in the Stone, one of my favorite films.
Leonardo the monster is truly terrible—terrible at being a monster. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to frighten anyone. Our pal Mo Willems is the author and illustrator, best known for his Caldecott award-winning books Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Knuffle Bunny.
Do you recall this book, from an early episode of the Reading Rainbow show? Steven Kellogg contributed fabulous artwork in over 90 children’s books, specializing in animals with gleeful expressions on their faces. He is one of my first influences in illustration, along with Mark Kistler from The Secret City, an educational drawing program on PBS.
“Grade School Graphic Novels” – Comics For Tots, Tweens, And Teens
I have to admit the subject matter is a little on the scary side, even for me. It is violent, gruesome, and disturbing. I was safeguarded from stuff this when I was a kid. At the same time, the two main characters are mostly good-natured and certain elements of the storyline are sugar-sweet, strikingly beautiful, and absolutely hysterical. Our 7-year-old thinks this is the bees’ knees.
A blue jay named Mordecai and a raccoon named Rigby work together as groundskeepers at a local park. Their attempts to slack off lead to bizarre situations, with lots of surprises. This is an all-ages comic based on the sensational Cartoon Network series.
Our 7-year-old’s second-favorite graphic novel series is a world of two ordinary children on a life-or-death mission. After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous.
Each of our kids, ages 1-7, enjoys this one immensely. We all read it together. For me, it was a pleasant return to Jim Henson’s world of Fraggles, Doozers, and Gorgs, with an all new story set underground in the beloved Fraggle Rock and below.
The legendary samurai is stranded in a strange future ruled by the demonic wizard. Once again, an outstanding cartoon is expanded into the print format for young readers to enjoy. Daniel and his friends are warriors-in-training, you know, so they can learn a lot from a martial arts master like Jack.
The dazzling comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes follows the imaginative adventures of a boy and his trusty tiger. Their unique way of dealing with family life mixes with astounding adventures, and heart-pounding comedy. This particular collection is a treasury, including the classic black-and-white dailies along with fantastic full-color stories.
“Young Adult Fiction Novels” – Chapter Books For The Young-At-Heart
When a little girl gets kidnapped by the BFG, she suspects to be eaten alive, but the “Big Friendly Giant” befriends her instead. To me, this book is the best evidence of Roald Dahl’s mastery of whimsy and fantasy—my two favorite elements in storytelling. And I have so much fun reading the dialogue between the girl and her giant friend, who speaks in a funny, illiterate kind of way. We went on a Roald Dahl book spree once. Our other favorites are James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The only one we recommend skipping is the non-chocolatey sequel: Charlie and the Glass Elevator.
This book changed the way we read bedtime stories. On our son’s second birthday, he received the first book as a gift, thanks to our friend, Virat. At the time, Daniel had a real resistance to sleeping. The illustrations in most of his books were too stimulating, or something, and so I turned to Harry Potter to try something new. Suddenly the kid could fall asleep. And I felt entertained too, so it was a win-win. FYI, I stopped reading this series aloud once we reached the fourth book, because I felt it was too spooky for the littles.
Peter Pan represents eternal youth. To me, he is the greatest character in children’s literature. This book is one in a series of modern stories, set between Never Land and England, complete with the pirate battles, fairy encounters, and flying children we remember from the classic story. It’s different too, in a desirable way. We listened to the audiobook, narrated by Jim Dale, who is famous for his readings of the Harry Potter series.
One of the best films from my childhood, the impact of this story is certainly enduring. I eventually read the book to the kids, after a clerk at BookPeople recommended it as his favorite novel. The story is an epic work of the imagination, and the first half aligns with the movie, for the most part, with extra depth in the characters of Bastian, Atreyu, and their talisman, the Auryn. The second half is painful at times, because of Bastian’s downfall into the darkness of his own imagination. Still, the world of Fantastica is wondrous, and I like the continual encouragement for kids to immerse themselves in reading, and to imagine a better world.
The pages of my first copy were wet and warped when I first found this book, left behind at a natural hot springs called Goldbug, in Idaho. I held onto it for years, mangled, reading it repeatedly. I love the movie too, of course, but the book brings me to tears. It is incredibly romantic at times, and unbelievably funny. I love it so much I read passages to my friends, sharing the enduring exchanges between Westley and Princess Buttercup. Thanks to my friend, Amber, I have a hardcover copy now, which includes the first chapter of the long-lost sequel, Buttercup’s Baby.
Unlike the other birds in his flock, one single seagull believes it is every gull’s right to fly freely, and follow their dreams. In more ways than one, Jonathan Livingston Seagull showed me who I am. He showed me how to take care of myself, respect my God-given gifts, pursue my passions, and love myself exactly as I am. Goodreads describes this book well: “This is a story for people who follow their hearts and make their own rules…people who get special pleasure out of doing something well, even if only for themselves…people who know there’s more to this living than meets the eye: they’ll be right there with Jonathan, flying higher and faster than ever they dreamed.”
A cargo ship containing zoo animals sinks into the Pacific Ocean, leaving alive a five survivors. One of these stranded at sea is a boy, who shares a life raft with wild animals. His main companion is a Bengal tiger. Together, they face the fiercest of storms, the severest of thirst, and their fears of each other, surviving 227 days after the shipwreck.
A little boy leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe. In his innocence, he is quick to point out the ridiculous patterns of behavior he sees through a series of extraordinary encounters. Ultimately, his story reveals a different perspective of what it means to be alive, and to live fully.
Together, two young friends create an imaginative kingdom in the woods, where they reign as king and queen. According to Wikipedia, the author drew inspiration for this lovely yet tragic story from a real event—her son’s friend was struck by lightning. This book won the Newbery Medal.
This is a story of a boy on a journey to the desert. He travels in search of his “personal treasure,” supposedly buried in the Egyptian pyramids. His quest for material wealth leads to something much more valuable. Goodreads says this about the book: “Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.”
Wyld is a young adult fiction novel series comparable to Harry Potter and Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan series: the story of a boy in a school of shamanic arts. SHIWA is the School of Human Interconnection With Animals, where students learn outdoor education and Native American rituals, while going face-to-face with wildlife and wild death. It’s an adventurous coming-of-age story about two timeless and universal struggles: survival in the wilderness and survival of adolescence.
A boy arrives at a detention center where he is required to spend all day every day digging holes. His peers are criminals, and the only adults around are unkind to kids, but he manages to find hope somewhere in the holes he is digging. Author Louis Sachar is famous for this book, along with Sideways Stories from Wayside School.
“Recommended By You” – Favorites Suggested By Our “Greater Family”
The Red Book is about a book—a red book without any words. When you turn the pages you’ll experience a new kind of adventure through the power of story.This Caldecott award-winner crosses oceans and continents to deliver one girl into a new world of possibility, where she finds a friend she’s not yet met.
Messy hair? So what! Here’s a little girl who knows what really matters. This high-energy story encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves—inside and out. At once silly and serious, Karen Beaumont’s joyous rhyming text and David Catrow’s zany illustrations unite forces in a book that is sassy, soulful, and straight from the heart.
Tango’s family is different from the other animal families he sees in the Central Park Zoo. This is the story of two male penguins becoming parenting partners, teaming up to raise a penguin chick, Tango. This is based on a true story.
Out picking blueberries, Sal and her mother meet a mother bear and her cub. Will each mother go home with the right little one? With its expressive line drawings and charming story, this book received the Caldecott Honor.
A heaven-sent angel arrives to sing with the other angels about Jesus. She accidentally falls asleep and wakes up alone. Her journey home leads her to an earthly life, where she continues to bear her heavenly light. This book embodies the spirit of giving at Christmas.
“For Parents” – Free-Wheeling Free-Reading For Adults
Hafiz poetry constantly encourages our hearts to dance. Each line imparts the wonderful qualities of the spiritual teacher: profound wisdom, an attitude of gratitude, and an audacious love that empowers lives. To me, Hafiz is the superlative Sufi mystic poet, admirable as a master poet alongside Rumi and Kabir.
After first reading Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, I ventured into Kat’s favorite Tom Robbins book, Jitterbug Perfume, and I agreed this is one of the wildest reads in history. It’s an everlasting saga, that begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and continues up to this very moment, illuminating the complexities of enduring love and immortality.
After I encouraged my mom to read this book, she started calling hipsters, “Roarks.” That’s because the story’s protagonist is a brilliant but fiery radical dude named Howard Roark, who represents the counter-culture, in my mom’s opinion. His antithesis is Peter Keating, a popular fellow with a tendency to play it safe and brownnose his way to the top. This story is relevant today, with love bombs, and explosive battles for success.
Author Italo Calvino’s short stories bring us into the cosmos, and into the perspective of omnipresent God-like beings who transcend space and time. And we have the pleasure of witnessing the continuous evolution of the universe, with all its quirks. With an impressive blend of imagination and intelligence, Calvino keeps it relatable, brushing on human experiences like loneliness, forbidden love, and curiosity, all the while watching the universe as it expands.
It’s the winner of a Nobel Prize, with global acclaim, if that says anything to you. To me, the story is stunning. And there are many levels of this stunning, like the many edges of a diamond, each edge shimmering. One of the memorable scenes is a bathing woman who is so beautiful in the nude that the sight of her causes a man to die instantly—he is working on the roof directly above her and falls to his death immediately upon seeing her. Love and war, riches and poverty, growth and decay… this is the story of the human race, told in a way that is simple, comical, and reverential.
While On the Road brings readers on road trips across the country with friends, The Dharma Bums places us in isolation, alone in a Forest Service fire lookout. This is where the real magic happens, as Kerouac copes with time to himself, searching for meaning. Kerouac’s zest for life is revealed in this book, through his relationships with mountaineering, hitchhiking, poetry reading, and partying, along with an examination of Buddhism.
This nonfiction book is for people in search of their true selves. Soulcraft discusses sacred ceremonies that have helped societies survive and thrive through transitions. The vision quest, for example, serves as a modern rite of initiation. Exercises and insightful stories help readers to discover unique gifts, or “soul purpose.” This book was pivotal in our decision to follow our calling into filmmaking, resulting in the Wild Family documentary feature film.
One day, I walked out of my job as an art director. I was crying when I called Kat, afraid of what this might mean for our family. It surprised me to find a hint of relief in her voice, and she assured me “All is well.” When I walked in the door, she told me this book, The Big Leap, jumped onto the bed in front of her. It felt like divine timing, so I read it all in a single day. This book gave precise articulation to the feelings of upper limits that created a constrictive, smothering effect in my work life. It described a Zone of Genius, with a clear path for achieving our true potential, attaining success in finances, love, and all areas of life. To me, this is the essential guide to discovering the natural talents and the God-given gifts that lead to a person’s true life work.
Kat’s favorite book is this nonfiction gem by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. Women Who Run With the Wolves relies on multicultural myths and folk tales, helping women to reconnect with their natural way of being. In this natural way is an endangered species, the “Wild Woman,” who is a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless wisdom.
Another one of Kat’s favorite books is Mutant Message Down Under, the fictional account of a spiritual odyssey through the Australian outback. In the story, a woman is summoned by a tribe of nomadic Aborigines to accompany them on walkabout. The woman makes a four-month journey, immersing herself in the ancient wisdom and philosophy of a culture that is more than 50,000 years old. Through this experience, she learns to live in natural harmony with the plants and animals that exist in the rugged lands of Australia’s bush.
The first chapter of this book is all about the importance of smiling. For someone with a long-time tendency to be over-serious, it is life-changing to have the reminder of the power and the beauty, and the contagiousness, of a smile. Our family friend, Erin, gifted this book to me shortly after high school, and in turn, I gifted this book at least seven times to different people. Being Peace is so precious and simple, reminding us how our state of heart, mind, and body can make the world a peaceful place. Truly, I believe world peace begins with me.
As the story goes, a well-educated university professor feels inspired to paint a portrait of Jesus. Then, in 1992, He appears to her and speaks with her daily for almost four months. During their time together, they discuss the various aspects of life, both miraculous and practical. This book is her report, for all of us. In my interpretation, the message is sincere, unbiased, and free from religious slants. There are profound moments, solidifying and clarifying certain truths we might find in the Bible and many other texts. The best part is the present-day language, which is infinitely more enjoyable to read than the Old English books of the past. I believe this is a modern-day extension of Christ consciousness.
“Be Well Bee” – Book Teaser
Click Here to view the teaser for the book, “Be Well Bee”, by Cabe Lindsay.
“Wyld” – Book Teaser
Click Here to view the “Wyld” book teaser.
“Who Is The Beast” – Storytime
Click Here to view the “Who Is The Beast” book reading.