1. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
Before she tried her hand at children’s books, Betty MacDonald already had a non-fiction book under her belt: The Egg and I, a memoir about her life as the wife of a chicken farmer in Washington state. After its success, she decided to put pen to paper to record some of the bedtime stories she used to tell her two daughters. The result was the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series.
2. Thomas the Tank Engine by Wilbert Awdry
In 1917, Wilbert Awdry sat in bed, listening to steam engines “talking” to each other on the nearby Great Western Railway. Wilbert grew up, got married, and had a son. In 1943, when Christopher Awdry was stuck in bed with the measles, Wilbert remembered the trains from his childhood and created stories about talking trains named Edward, Gordon, and Henry. The stories got more and more detailed, later expanding to include a train named Thomas that young Christopher had gotten for Christmas.
3. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema
This Caldecott-winning adaptation of an African fable may just teach you a thing or two and it’ll do it with the kind of lovely, elegant illustrations that seem to become rarer by the day.
4. Goodnight World by Debi Gliori
It's hard to think of a more perfect bedtime book than Goodnight World. The sun is going down and the world is getting ready to go to sleep. ‘Goodnight' says the text to trucks and cars and planes, to shadows.
5. Storytime: Hello Mr Moon by Lorna Gutierrez
Hello, Mr Moon is a magical story written in rhyme, featuring a cast of adorable nocturnal animals that will help young children understand why the moon they see in the sky is always changing, and inspire children to learn more.
6. The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business by Werner Holzwarth
This may not be to everyone’s taste, but there’s no escaping the lavatory when it comes to children’s humour, and this book (translated from the original German) manages to be educational too.
7. Adventures of Mrs Pepperpot by Alf Prøysen
Illustrated by Hilda Offen, the Red Fox edition contains two abridged versions of these well-loved Norwegian stories about the woman who shrinks.
8. The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child
Though undoubtedly more famous for her Charlie and Lola series, Lauren Child’s retelling of this classic fairy tale is wildly inventive. The visuals are created with Polly Borland's photographs of a miniature dolls’ house.
9. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Maurice Sendak illustrated more than 50 books for other authors before he thought of making one of his own. When he finally did he managed to create the Citizen Kane of picture books, one that resonates across generations. It dares to lead kids to their wilder sides and then back to the sweet safety of their own bedrooms where a dinner of soup still hot, no less awaits them.
10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The idea of writing a book for kids that manages to cover colors, counting, days of the week, healthy eating and the process of metamorphosis sounds impossible. All the more reason to admire what might well be the world's most perfect picture book. As Carle himself once said of his work, it's a book of hope for any child who feels small and helpless and wonders if they'll ever grow up. In other words, it's for the future butterflies of the world.