It took me a while to decide how to categorize these titles; I've listed our favorites first, then grouped the rest by attention span (according to the amount of text on each page, not necessarily the difficulty of the content). The author's name is first, followed by the illustrator.
At the very top of any list is Tasha Tudor. I cannot recommend her books highly enough. Her stories are charming and delightful, and her illustrations are near perfection. My whole family adores her, and Sam regularly demands one of her books at storytime. Every one of her books is a treasure, but here are a few that we like especially: A Time to Keep; Pumpkin Moonshine; Becky's Birthday; Corgiville Fair; The Dolls' Christmas
We are especially fond of the following books as well, in alphabetical order:
Jill Barklem: Brambly Hedge books
The stories are somewhat lacking in plot and action, but the illustrations are marvelous!
Elsa Beskow: Pelle's New Suit
A sweet tale of a boy who works cheerfully for a new suit from his lamb's wool.
Betsy Bowen: Gathering: A Northwoods Counting Book; Antler, Bear, Canoe: A Northwoods Alphabet
Wood-cut illustrations accompany appealing descriptions of life in the Northwoods of Minnesota.
Barbara Cooney: Miss Rumphius
A little girl declares that she will do three things in her life: go to faraway places, live by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful.
Irene Haas: The Maggie B
One of my absolute favorites. A little girl wishes for her own ship, and wakes up the next morning aboard the Maggie B, with her brother James for company.
Donald Hall, Barbara Cooney: Ox-Cart Man
A farmer loads up his cart with all the extra produce from his farm and goes to the market. This is pretty much my dream life.
Russell Hoban, Lilian Hoban: Bedtime for Frances; A Baby Sister for Frances; Bread and Jam for Frances
We love Frances! And we are in awe of her long-suffering parents!
Robert McCloskey: Blueberries for Sal; One Morning In Maine; Make Way For Ducklings
We love them.
Alice McLerran, Barbara Cooney: Roxaboxen
As children, my sisters and I were much inspired by this story of neighbor children and their own little town on a hill.
Iona Opie, Rosemary Wells: Here Comes Mother Goose; My Very First Mother Goose
Lots of nursery rhymes with cute illustrations.
Patricia Polacco: G Is For Goat
Cheery and colorful illustrations of little Russian girls and their farm animals (including Nubian goats!).
Beatrix Potter: The Tale of Two Bad Mice; The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle; The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin; The Tale of Mrs Tittlemouse; Ginger and Pickles
Our particular favorites.
Alice and Martin Provensen: The Year at Maple Hill Farm; Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm
Fun and slyly humorous tales of life at Maple Hill Farm.
Richard Scarry: Cars and Trucks and Things That Go; The Great Pie Robbery; Find Your ABCs; Mr Frumble's Coffee Shop Disaster
How many times have we read these, as children and as adults? Oh, probably a million or so. But even though I groan when Sam pulls them out again, I still like them.
Jane Werner Watson, Eloise Wilkin: My Little Golden Book About God
A perfect introduction to Christianity. Theologically sound without being confusing, simple without being dumbed down. And lovely illustrations as well!
1-2 sentences per page
Allan Ahlberg, Janet Ahlberg: Each Peach Pear Plum
A long-time favorite--I spy fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters, with cheery illustrations.
Sandra Boynton: Blue Moo; But Not The Hippopotamus; Barnyard Dance!; Hippos Go Berserk; Snoozers
The board books are perfect for babies, and the songbooks/CDs are fun for everybody.
Margaret Wise Brown: Goodnight Moon; The Moon Shines Down; Seven Little Postmen
Judy Collins, Jane Dyer: My Father
A beautifully illustrated version of a lovely sweet song.
Lois Ehlert: Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z
Bright and colorful pictures of almost all the fruits and vegetables you can think of.
Cathryn Falwell: Feast for 10
Count to 10 with a family preparing a holiday meal.
Marla Frazee: Hush Little Baby
Lovely illustrations of an Appalachian family accompany the familiar song.
Taro Gomi: Bus Stops; My Friends
Odd little books, but Sam enjoyed them as a baby.
Edward Lear, Jan Brett: The Owl and the Pussycat
Brilliant illustrations accompany the familiar poem.
Thomas Locker: The Mare on the Hill
These aren't illustrations, they're paintings--absolutely gorgeous. The story is simple but sweet, about two brothers who tame their grandfather's mare.
Jean Marzollo, Walter Wick: I Spy series
These are great challenges for both kids and adults--some of them are really hard! The photos are really interesting and well-arranged.
Jill Murphy: Five Minutes' Peace; A Quiet Night In
Funny stories about Mr and Mrs Large and their occasionally tiresome children.
Kadir Nelson: He's Got The Whole World In His Hands
Beautiful illustrations accompany the familiar song.
Jerry Pallotta, Rob Bolster: The Construction Alphabet Book
A must-have for boys obsessed with heavy machinery. The sound effects are a little annoying, but the pictures are nicely detailed.
Antoinette Portis: Not A Box
Sam is highly amused by this short and simple story of an imaginative little rabbit.
Peter H. Reynolds: The Dot
An odd but inspiring little story of a girl who becomes an artist in spite of herself.
Stacey Schuett: Somewhere In The World Right Now
A look at what's happening around the world right now--as children on the East Coast go to sleep, children in China are waking up, etc.
Simms Taback: I Miss You Every Day
Simple and a bit silly, but Sam likes it.
Cat Urbigkit: Puppies, Puppies Everywhere!
Very simple text with sweet photographs of sheepdog puppies in Wyoming.
Laura Williams: ABC Kids
Cute photographs of kids demonstrating letters of the alphabet.
Short paragraph per page
Lloyd Alexander, Trina Schart Hyman: The Fortune-Tellers
A winning combo of author and illustrator, and a funny little story.
Dianna Hutts Aston, Sylvia Long: A Seed Is Sleepy; An Egg Is Quiet
Beautifully illustrated --easy non-fiction about seeds and eggs. The information is simple yet accurate, and doesn't try to avoid big words like chlorophyll or cotyledon.
Felicia Bond: Poinsettia and Her Family; Poinsettia and the Firefighters
A little pig learns to appreciate her family; and not to be afraid of the dark.
Jan Brett: Daisy Comes Home; Annie and the Wild Animals; Armadillo Rodeo; Hedgie's Surprise
Predictable stories but amazing illustrations.
Virginia Lee Burton: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel; Katy and the Big Snow
Must-haves for any child's bookshelf.
Eric Carle: The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Animals Animals; Dragons Dragons; A House for a Hermit Crab; Pancakes, Pancakes!
I'm always amazed by his illustrations--so inventive. Lots of good poems in the anthologies.
Judy Dunn, Phoebe Dunn: The Animals of Buttercup Farm; The Little Goat; The Little Lamb
Simple stories and sweet photographs about farm animals and the children who love them.
Katherine Holabird, Helen Craig: Angelina Ballerina
The Angelina stories are actually pretty lame, but I love the illustrations, and I want to live in her house.
Shirley Hughes: Alfie's Feet; Alfie Gets In First; Annie Rose Is My Little Sister
Cute stories about a little British boy.
Jack Kent: The Fat Cat
My favorite as a child. A silly folk tale about a cat who starts eating everything in his path.
Patricia MacLachlan, Katy Schneider: Once I Ate A Pie
Odd, amusing little poems describing the personalities of various dogs.
Christine Kole Maclean, Mike Reed: Even Firefighters Hug Their Moms
I love the imaginative games that the little boy plays with his sister, although I wish their annoying mom would quit bugging them!
Bill Martin Jr, Lois Ehlert: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Silly. Fun. A good alphabet introduction. Sam likes it.
Kate and Jim McMullan: I'm Mighty; I'm Dirty; I Stink!
Hardly great literature, but fun read-aloud books for boys who like vehicles.
Jacqueline Mitton, Christina Balit: Zoo in the Sky
A wonderful introduction to the mythology of constellations, with beautiful illustrations.
Liesel Moak Skorpen, Doris Burn: We Were Tired of Living In A House
Four children move out of their house and try out various alternative dwellings. Cute and imaginative.
Robin Stemp, Carolyn Dinan: Guy and the Flowering Plum Tree
Another childhood favorite--a little boy wonders what will happen after he swallows a plum pit.
Judith Viorst, Ray Cruz: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day
Some days are like that, even in Australia.
Rosemary Wells: Max and Ruby books
Fun silly stories about Max the rabbit and his bossy older sister.
David Weisner: The Three Pigs
What happens when characters fall off the pages of their stories? They rearrange things to suit themselves, of course!
Laura Ingalls Wilder: My First Little House Books
These are a bit oversimplified, and the illustrations only try to be as good as Garth Williams's, but they are a nice intro to the longer books. Sam is particularly fond of Dance at Grandpa's and Going to Town.
Audrey and Don Wood: The Napping House; King Bidgood's in the Bathtub
Goofy and fun. Even better if you can find their CD and sing along.
Virginia Woolf, Julie Vivas: Nurse Lugton's Curtain
An odd little story found amongst Woolf's manuscripts.
Several paragraphs per page
Chris Van Allsburg: The Polar Express; Jumanji
The classic Christmas story and the very odd story of a board game that turns out to be very far from boring.
Judi Barrett, Ron Barrett: Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs
Goofy fantasy about strangely edible weather.
James Harrison, Diana Mayo: My Little Picture Bible
A good beginner Bible. Most of the familiar stories are included, decently re-written, with small amounts of text on each page and illustrations that aren't too cartoony.
James Herriot: Treasury for Children
A lovely collection of some of his most touching stories.
Trina Schart Hyman: Little Red Riding Hood
Such an odd fairy tale, but retold well and illustrated superbly.
Virginia Kahl: The Duchess Bakes A Cake
When the duchess gets bored one day and decides to bake a cake, the results are surprising.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Susan Jeffers/Ted Rand: Hiawatha; Paul Revere's Ride
Wonderful read-aloud poems. Sam loves them both.
Marianna Mayer, K.Y. Craft: The Twelve Dancing Princesses
A gorgeously illustrated retelling of an odd but lovely fairy tale.
Louise Moeri, Trina Schart Hyman: Star Mother's Youngest Child
This is still a bit long for Sam, but it was one of my favorites as a child--a sweet Christmas story.
Jerry Pinkney: Noah's Ark
A nice adaptation--excellent illustrations and a decently re-written text.
Dr Seuss: Green Eggs and Ham; I Can Lick Thirty Tigers Today!; Dr Seuss's ABCs
I'm not a big Seuss fan, but these are tolerable.
John Updike, Trina Schart Hyman: A Child's Calendar
Poems for each month of the year, wih illustrations by one of our favorite artists.
For anyone who's wondering, yes, we do own all of these books (and oh, so many more--check out our complete picture book collection here). And Sam enjoys all of them at least as much as I do, including Angelina Ballerina and The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I always enjoy seeing the selection of books he chooses for storytime--it is invariably eclectic.