The Big List of Storytime Books

We read a lot of storytime books around here – before naptime, before bedtime, before breakfast, after breakfast, for breakfast – you get the idea. My daughters are three and almost two, which means that our library is well-loved (aka the covers now dangle from most of the books → aka time for some new books → aka cue all the jazz hands emojis because there’s nothing better than shopping for new books, right?).  I polled a bunch of my mom friends for their kids’ best storytime books, and here’s what we came up with – tried and true classics mixed in with some contemporary gems.

So! If you like Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, you might like these other books about going to bed:
Goodnight Moon.jpg
The Going To Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Good Night, Good Night Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
Goodnight Already by Jory John and Benji Davies
Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue and Pamela Zagarenski
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
Goodnight Train by June Sobel and Laura Huliska-Beith
Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan
The House In the Night by Susan Marie Swanson and Beth Krommes
It’s Time to Sleep, My Love by Nancy Tillman and Eric Metaxas
Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin

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Before They Can Read: 10 Children’s Book Illustrators Both Kids & Parents Will Love

For youngsters who can’t yet read on their own, like my precious daughter, illustrations in books are the heart of engaging imagination and captivating attention. Children’s literature is rich with beautiful art that can help a child develop a love of books (just as soon as they pass the stage where eating the book is the primary intrigue).

As adults who are reading aloud to your kids, I believe it’s important that you enjoy the book, too, if for no other reason than it means you’re more likely to read it over and over again, making story time a cherished ritual with your kiddos. While there are some amazing classic children’s books which every child should read, here are 10 illustrators whose artwork will get you (and your babes and tots) hooked on books.


Oliver Jeffers is an artist, illustrator and writer from Belfast in Northern Ireland who now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Jeffers uses mixed media and figurative painting, along with his own style of composition, to create enchanting illustrations which are adored by readers of all ages. Several of his books – including Stuck and This Moose Belongs to Me (shown above) – rose to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. The Day the Crayons Quit, written by Drew Daywalt, comes to life thanks to the illustrations by Jeffers. Follow him @OliverJeffers on Twitter.

Canadian-born author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds is known for his children’s picture books which encourage creativity and self expression, including The North Star, The Dot (shown above), Ish and So Few Me. The Dot is among my favorites. Clearly others agree, since it’s been published in more than 20 languages around the world. Follow him @peterhreynolds on Twitter.

Benji Davies is both an illustrator and animator. His work on the printed page features colorful scenes and charming characters, like award-winning On Sudden Hill, written by Linda Sarah, Goodnight Already! by Jory John, The Storm Whale (shown above) and dozens more. Follow him @Benji_Davies on Twitter.

Jane Chapman (also known by her pseudonym Jack Tickle) really hit her stride with the bestselling picture book Bear Snores On, written by Karma Wilson and published in 2002. Chapman’s feathery brush strokes are easy to spot. Due to her tendency to illustrate anthropomorphized creatures great and small, I’ve been compelled to acquire several of her books for my daughter’s library.

Chapman’s husband, Tim Warnes, is also an illustrator, comic artist and children’s book author. One of my favorite board books which features Warnes’ work is I Love You to the Moon and Back. It’s sweet, gentle rhyme was written by Amelia Hepworth. Warnes and Chapman live in Dorset, England, with their son Noah. Teamed up, they published Hands Off My Honey! Follow this duo @chapmanwarnes on Twitter.


Mo Willems is an American writer, animator and creator of lovable children’s books. Caldecott honors and critically-acclaimed for starters, Willems’ picture books offer whimsy with a twist on the ordinary. Known for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs and dozens more. Follow him @The_Pigeon on Twitter.


Carin Berger is an author, designer and illustrator who created OK Go! and Not So True Stories & Unreasonable Rhymes. My favorite among her work is her latest picture book, called The Little Yellow Leaf, where she uses collage-based illustrations. Its subtlety and simplicity are delightful. Follow her @CarinBerger on Twitter.

Los Angeles-based illustrator Brigette Barrager has a retro style that harkens back to the 50s and 60s. She illustrated Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain?, written by Harriet Ziefert. Barrager also illustrates princesses, unicorns and paper dolls. Follow her @missbrigette on Twitter and Instagram.

Charles Santoso is a picture book illustrator based out of Sydney, Australia. Perhaps the inspiration for his latest work came from Down Under as well. I Don’t Like Koala, written by Sean Ferrell, just hit shelves this week. Follow him @minitreehouse on Twitter.

Erin E. Stead is a Caldecott award-winning illustrator of children’s books. Her first publication was A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by her husband Philip C. Stead, who is also an artist. Her other award-winning works include Bear Has a Story to Tell, also written by her husband, plus And Then It’s Spring (shown above), written by Julie Fogliano.

Who is your favorite contemporary illustrator of children’s books?

Meredith is Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

Books Authors Read with Jeramey Kraatz

We continue our “Books Authors Read” series with children’s author Jeramey Kraatz, who wrote The Cloak Society and The Cloak Society: Villains Risingwhich the School Library Journal declared “will likely find the same wide appeal as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books.” Jeramey himself is a lovely, wonderful person too — he joined us Sunday for a signing and a “Make Your Own Comic Book” activity with a bunch of kids who were very excited about creating their own superhero/supervillain narratives. We love his books, too. Thanks, Jeramey! — Kristen D. 

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I was born on Friday the 13th  (my name was almost “Jason”). Horror-movie marathons were a regular occurrence in my childhood. I feel at home with zombies, maniacs, and the soul-crushing abyss. Even when I was a kid, these were the kinds of tales I gravitated to. So, in honor of Halloween, here’s a non-exhaustive, completely objective collection of books and stories that have creeped me out over the years, listed roughly in the order in which I read them, from elementary school to now.

1. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark  – Alvin Schwartz (writer), Stephen Gammell (art)

Obviously. These were the Holy Grail of the book fair in elementary school. The kind of books you’d stay up late reading aloud at your friend’s house or hide from your parents because you were afraid they’d take them away from you. There’s a whole generation of readers out there who were equally entertained and traumatized by these gruesome little stories. (And that art. It’s just as gruesome as you remember.)

2. The Fear Street Sagas – R. L. Stine

I made the jump from Goosebumps to R.L. Stine’s teen series while I was still pretty young. There’s no telling how many of those books I read (seriously, go check out the series Wikipedia page—there are over 100 of them), but the Fear Street Saga books were the ones I read over and over again. They were part historical fiction, part family history, and packed with the kind of overwrought drama and twists I loved as a kid. And they were pretty gruesome, too—I remember one death scene involving the kitchen maid and a bunch of rising dough that was the most horrifying thing kid-me had ever read. At least until…

3. Urban Legends (generally)

Here is a very clear memory I have of being in the fourth grade: Jason, my best friend, had checked out a book of urban legends from the Ector County Library and brought it to school, where we passed it back and forth to each other, devouring the tales of insane murderers and men with hooks for hands. (I was especially creeped out by the “Don’t look behind you” and “Humans can lick, too” legends.) We made it about halfway through the book before school was out. That night, those stories were all I could think about. The nightmares were brutal.

The next day, Jason showed up to school and didn’t have the book with him. He told me he didn’t want to read it anymore, not elaborating any further. He didn’t have to.

4. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

I don’t know if I read the book or caught the movie first, but Piggy haunted me.

5. From Hell – Alan Moore (writer) and Eddie Campbell (art)

Moore’s incredibly layered telling of the Whitechapel murders is dense, sprawling, and, occasionally, completely insane. Campbell’s black-and-white art evokes more horror than any amount of blood-red ink could have (the chapter-long murder sequence comes to mind). It’s a must-read for anyone interested in Jack the Ripper. 

6. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski

This is the book that scared me more than any other! I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m usually a really slow reader, but I devoured this weirdo labyrinth of a novel in one weekend while I was in grad school. It was one of those experiences where I read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, and didn’t realize I was dreaming until I was already convinced my bedroom door had opened up into a dark, unending hallway. I woke up terrified and sweating, and had to finish the book immediately.   

7. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote, and 8. Helter Skelter – Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry

When I’m working on a project, I don’t like to read anything that’s in a similar genre if I can help it. A few years ago when I was editing The Cloak Society and starting on the sequel, Villains Rising, I went through a big true crime phase. I’d just moved into a new place—my first time to live alone—and was in the middle of re-reading In Cold Blood when I started the audiobook of Helter Skelter as something to listen to in the background while I unpacked.

In retrospect, it’s really easy to see what a dumb idea this was.

9. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson

It’s the classic haunted house story for a reason. It’s slim, and starts off fairly tame, but is deceiving in how claustrophobic and layered it is. That’s one of the best things about the book: you don’t realized how unhinged the narration is until its too late, and by the end you’re wondering if the house was ever really haunted at all. It’s a great example of a book letting you use your own imagination to fill in the gaps of the horror scenes, which is always creepier than just telling you what’s happening (to me, at least).

Also, everyone in this book does some serious Mad Men drinking. No wonder they were seeing things.

10. The Shining – Stephen King

If you’re avoiding it because you’ve seen the movie a dozen times, know that it both gives a lot of great backstory to the characters AND is different enough that things will still catch you by surprise. I just read it earlier this month, and am kicking myself for not having done so earlier. It’s kind of the opposite of Jackson’s book in that there’s no doubt this hotel is one bad, haunted place, but the real horror is in watching Jack slowly fall apart, from his perspective and the POV of his family.

11. Uzumaki – Junji Ito

Uzumaki is a manga about a town obsessed with spirals. It starts out with one man obsessed with the shape, and then gets weirder and weirder as the madness spreads. There’s a vortex that opens up in someone’s forehead, snail people, hair battles…I don’t even know how to describe it other than that it’s got some incredibly potent scenes and images of horror that will stick with me for a long, long time.  

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Jeramey Kraatz is the author of The Cloak Society series, including The Cloak Society and The Cloak Society: Villains Rising

You may follow him on Twitter at @jerameykraatz.