Best of Children’s Books 2011: For the Very Youngest Readers

The first section of Smithsonian’s 2011 Best Children’s Books begins with selections for the youngest readers in your family

Children's books for the youngest readers
Children's books for the youngest readers Photo by Ryan R. Reed

This year’s selection of children’s books, as always, reflects the dazzling output of artists and writers who range into realms of past and present, dream and documentary account, memoir and reportage, fiction and fact.  In these pages, we are transported everywhere from  a hilltop village in Italy to the White House in 1941, Alaska at the height of a blizzard, a hamlet in Kenya, and rural India of 500 years ago.

We begin with page-turning choices for the very youngest children.  (Thereby adhering to one of our fundamental mantras: it’s never too early to begin with books.)

Maisy’s Amazing Big Book of Learning by Lucy Cousins
A cleverly constructed lift-the-flap book delivers an irresistible primer on everything from shapes and colors to numbers and opposites. Cousins constitutes a force of nature for the preschool set.

Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen
A droll and wackily original take on the eternal good vs. evil dilemma gives one beneficent lupine the last laugh. A stand-out debut.

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle
From the author who created A Very Hungry Caterpillar, a window on a painter’s technicolor vision of the world.

Simms Taback’s Farm Animals by Simms Taback
The beloved illustrator’s barnyard bestiary—consisting of fold-out critters hidden under giant flaps—is sure to become a well-thumbed favorite.

Ten Little Caterpillars by Bill Martin Jr, illustrated by Lois Ehlert
A paean to the magic of transformation and an inventive introduction to the mysterious world of Lepidoptera.

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