The 20 Most Beautiful Children’s Books of All Time


Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2012. We’ve selected it as one of the posts we’re republishing for our 10th anniversary celebrations in May 2017.

Ever since Chris Van Allsburg’s birthday last month, we’ve been feeling a surge of appreciation for the plethora of beautiful picture books in our lives. In fact, we think some of the loveliest illustrations we’ve ever seen have been in books (or maybe that’s just the association with a great story talking), so we decided to round up a few of the most beautiful children’s books — at least according to us. Keep in mind: we’re going for beauty, not iconic status — so Tenniel’s Alice drawings and a few other iconic, innovative illustrations, while dear to us, don’t make the cut. Leaf through our picks for the most mindblowingly beautiful picture books after the jump, and since we can only draw from our own personal knowledge and tastes, and we know there are scores upon scores of gorgeous children’s books out there (thank goodness), be sure to add any other favorites of yours to our list in the comments!

The Arrival , written and illustrated by Shaun Tan.

The Garden of Abdul Gasazi , written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg.

Outside Over There , written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

Snow-white and the Seven Dwarfs , written by Jacob and Willhelm Grimm, illustrated by Nancy E. Burkert

Flotsam , written and illustrated by David Wiesner.

Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales , illustrated by Harry Clarke.

Vivaldi, written by Helge Torvund, illustrated by Mari Kanstad Johnsen.

East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales From the North , illustrated by Kay Nielsen.

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale , written by Verna Aardema, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon.

Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Tale from China , written and illustrated by Ed Young.

Old French Fairy Tales , written by Comtesse De Segur, illustrated by Virginia Frances Sterrett.

The Great Paper Caper , written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers.

The Snowy Day , written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats.

The Ship That Sailed to Mars , written and illustrated by William Timlin.

Along A Long Road , written and illustrated by Frank Viva.

The Magic Flute , adapted and illustrated by Emanuele Luzzati.

The Little Prince , written and illustrated by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

House Held Up By Trees , written by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen.

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens , written by J.M. Barrie, illustrated by Arthur Rackham.

Animalia , written and illustrated by Graeme Base.