1. Eric CarleWhy he’s great: Probably known best for his colorful illustrations, he’s a great writer with simple story lines, usually involving animals (which most kids love). Carle’s books appeal to babies and preschoolers alike — all kids enjoy his stuff. His books usually have a unique set up, such as holes in the pages or smaller pages leading to bigger ones.
Some of his best: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Quiet Cricket, The Grouchy Ladybug
2. Kevin Henkes
Why he’s great: He’s one of the better modern-day authors, with lovable characters who go through many of the same day-to-day situations as our children.
Some of his best: Owen, Jessica, and Wemberly Worried
3. Steven KelloggWhy he’s great: His over-the-top plots and d elightful illustrations are a joy to read out loud, and they interest a wide age range of kids (and adults).
Some of his best: The Mysterious Tadpole, Pecos Bill, The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash
4. Ruth KraussWhy she’s great: Her stories are simple but charming. They’re to the point, and the vocabulary is outstanding. Great word choice. Many of her books are illustrated by greats like Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are) and Crocket Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon).
Some of his best: A Hole Is to Dig, I’ll Be You and You Be Me, The Carrot Seed
5. Arnold LobelWhy he’s great: He creates hilarious characters who interact in clever dialogue. His illustrations are beautiful, too.
Some of his best: All the Frog and Toad books, Owl at Home, Mouse Soup, Fables
6. Robert McCloskeyWhy he’s great: His illustrations are quality of the vintage sort, with sweet faces and detailed scenery. He doesn’t talk down to children, and his story lines are simple but engaging.
Some of his best: Blueberries for Sal (quite possibly my all-time favorite early children’s book), Lentil, Make Way for Ducklings, One Morning in Maine
7. Beatrix Potter
Why she’s great: She remains the best-selling children’s author of all time. Beatrix Potter’s books are chock full of great vocabulary, and her narrative style is heart-warming and funny. Great characters, too. And beautiful illustrations.
Some of her best: The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny
8. Margret and H.A. ReyWhy they’re great: As a married couple with a fascinating story of adventure in their own life, the Reys created one of the most well-loved characters in children’s literature. They’ve created other wonderful characters as well, and a simple voice and universally-appealing plots make most of their works a classic.
Some of they’re best: All seven of the original Curious George books (many were written later with the same character, but they weren’t penned by the original authors — and they’re not as good), Katy No-Pocket, Billy’s Picture, Whiteblack the Penguin Sees the World
9. E.B. WhiteWhy he’s great: He writes wonderful characters, and he has great word choice. His his style softens your heart towards the meanest of his characters.
Some of his best: Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, The Trumpet of the Swan
10. Margaret Wise BrownWhy she’s great: You’re not allowed to have a list of great children’s book authors and not include her. More for the very young crowd, Margaret Wise Brown’s words rhythmically lead the reader on a comforting journey without dumbing down from poor word choice. A classic.
Some of her best: Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Seven Little Postmen, Big Red Barn
Audible Kids has an enormous selection of good children’s books. This is a lifesaver for those times when you don’t want your kids plopped in front of the TV, yet you don’t have time to read to them one-on-one. It shouldn’t substitute daily reading with them, but it’s a good additional supplement.