Since I don't have much experience with them (or remember very many from when I was little), I'm playing picture-book catchup in anticipation of my daughter being old enough for them. I'm mostly pulling ideas from the 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Die book, but I'm going off on my own, or choosing other books by the same authors, on occasion.
Zen Shorts by Jon Muth
This lovely book has three children encountering a panda in their backyard. Each goes to visit him, and he tells them a story adapted from an ancient zen story that speaks to their particular needs at the time. The art is soft and inviting, and the stories each have good morals, even though they stem from a religious tradition not my own.
Are We There Yet? by Allison Lester
A family with three kids (our narrator is the middle one, named Grace) takes a three-month camping trip around Australia, seeing all the different types of places the country has to offer, and staying with friends all around, or camping by the beach or in the forest. I'm not big on camping, but this sounds like a wonderful thing to do in general. The book is a bit wordy, but very interesting. I'd love to see other books like this about traveling around different countries.
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Karina hasn't had issues going to sleep since she was a tiny baby, so I'm not sure how much this will resonate with her as she gets older, but it's a pretty adorable story about a pretty adorable baby llama who's afraid of being alone before going to sleep. The cadence is very pleasing to read aloud, and the expressions on the llama baby's face are priceless.
George, the Dragon, and the Princess by Christopher Wormell
This is not, as you might expect, the story of Saint George and the Dragon. Nope, George here is a little mouse, timid and clumsy. But when a dragon roars onto the scene, George bravely runs against him, and thankfully, the dragon is afraid of mice! Told with sparing words (one line per page) and gorgeous painterly images, this is one I'll probably introduce to Karina relatively soon.
The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon by Mini Grey
I was really looking forward to this one - a story about the adventures of the dish and spoon after they ran away, involving show business and bank robbery? Sign me up! I did like the story, but it was a bit busy, I thought. It was a bit of a challenge to keep up with the story and stay engaged because each page just had a bit too much happening on it.
Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Book? by Lauren Child
This one intrigued me immediately, because I love stories where people go into books. I did enjoy the story on this one, with the little boy going into his fairy tale book and realizing that the stories are all messed up because he's mistreated the book - drawing mustaches on princesses, cutting people out, pasting pages in upside down, etc. But the art style is really manic and even though I liked the idea of making it look like paper cut-outs (as per the theme of the book), it just wasn't pleasant for me to look at, verging on ugly at times.