Perfect Little Library, by Kelsey Cole-Burns

Perfect Little Library small

It is perhaps the hardest question to ask a children’s librarian, next to “Choose your favorite cat video.” Last week, our founder Cory Eckert asked the Storytime Underground group on Facebook to choose 5 picture books that every children’s collection absolutely must own. Choosing five is as hard as it sounds. There were calls of despair and general nail-biting as we were forced to choose just five. Phyllis Davis compared the tortuous exercise to “when you are at the YS Desk and have to watch the parent who tells their child they may only check out one book to take home!” What kind of monster would ask this?


Needless to say, we all survived and created a pretty stellar list, one that I would like to call the Perfect Little Library. Although there were some sneaky sixth additions, this was a great exercise in restraint and deep consideration for choosing your ultimate favorite picture books. As I chose my books, I had to choose five diverse books, weighing age appeal, cultural diversity, popular appeal, and literary merit.


Below are the most chosen books by 38 librarians around the U.S. What 5 picture books would you put in your perfect little library?

And below are books that received 1 vote, organized by author:

  • Alborough, Jez.   It’s the Bear
  • Allard, Harry.   Miss Nelson Is Missing
  • Andreae, Giles.   Giraffes Can’t Dance
  • Aylesworth, Jim.   The Gingerbread Man
  • Barnett, Mac.   Extra Yarn
  • Bottner, Barbara.   Miss Brooks Loves Books
  • Brett, Jan.   Annie and the Wild Animals
  • Brett, Jan.   The Mitten
  • Brown, Peter.   Children Make Terrible Pets
  • Burton, Virginia Lee.   mike mulligan
  • Campbell, Rod.   Dear Zoo
  • Carle, Eric.   Head to Toe
  • Carle, Eric.   The Very Busy Spider
  • Cousins, Lucy.   Peck Peck Peck
  • Cronin, Denise.   Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type
  • Deacon, Alexis.   Beegu
  • Degen, Bruce.   Jamberry
  • DePaola, Tomie.   Strega Nona
  • Dewdney, Anna.   Llama Llama Red Pajama
  • Eastman, P.D.   Are You My Mother?
  • Eastman, P.D.   Go Dog Go
  • Ehlert, Lois.   Eating the Alphabet
  • Falconer, Ian.   Olivia
  • Gag, Wanda.   Millions of Cats
  • Gaiman, Neil.   Chu’s Day
  • Galdone, Paul.   Three Billy Goats Gruff
  • Garcia, Emma.   Toot, Toot, Beep, Beep
  • Goble, Paul.   The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses
  • Grossman, Bill.   Donna O’neeshuck Was Chased By Some Cows
  • Haynes, Max.   In the Driver’s Seat
  • Henkes, Kevin.   Owen
  • Jenkins, Martin.   Can We Save the Tiger
  • Kasza, Keiko.   The Pig’s Picnic
  • Katz, Karen.   The Colors of Us
  • Keats, Ezra Jack.   Peter’s Chair
  • Leaf, Munro.   The Story of Ferdinand
  • Lee, Suzy.   Shadow
  • Lester, Helen.   Tacky the Penguin
  • Lionni, Leo.   Little Blue and Little Yellow
  • Macaulay, David.   black and white
  • McCloskey, Robert.   One Morning in Maine
  • Mosel, Ariene.   Tikki Tikki Tembo
  • Munsch, Robert.   The Paperbag Princess
  • Muth, Jon.   Three Questions
  • Piper, Watty.   The Little Engine that could
  • Prelutsky, Jack.   Read Aloud Rhymes For The Very Young
  • Rathmann, Peggy.   Officer Buckle and Gloria
  • Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan.   The Secret River
  • Scanlon, Liz.   All the World
  • Scarry, Richard.   What Do People Do All Day
  • Seuss, Dr.   Horton Hatches The Egg
  • Seuss, Dr.   My Many Colored Days
  • Seuss, Dr.   Red fish Blue fish
  • Shea, Bob.   Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great
  • Sierra, Judy.   Tasty Baby Bellybuttons
  • Sierra, Judy.   Wild About Books
  • Simont, Marc.   The Stray Dog
  • So, Meilo   Gobble Gobble Slip Slop
  • Taback, Simms.   There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
  • Tan, Shaun.   The Arrival
  • Thomas, Jan.   Can You Make a Scary Face
  • Thomas, Jan.   Rhyming Dust Bunnies
  • Van Allsburg, Chris.   Polar Express
  • Vorst, Judith.   Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day
  • Wadsworth, Olive.   Over in the Meadow
  • Watt, Melanie.   Scaredy Squirrel
  • Wheeler, Lisa.   Jazz Baby
  • Williams, Vera B.   A Chair for My Mother
  • Wilson, Karma.   The Cow Loves Cookies
  • Wood, Audrey.   The Napping House
  • Wood, Don.   Little Mouse the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear
  • Yolen, Jane.   How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight
  • Zimmerman, Andrea.   Trashy Town

Kelsey Cole-Burns is a Youth Services Librarian at Fremont Public Library in Mundelein, Illinois. You can visit her blog at

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