Hello again Friends! We’ll carry on with our Week of Wishlists today by adding some soul-filling picture books to your lists. You can find last year’s list here.

I admit that I had a little help in choosing this year’s picture book selections. I dearly love this magical genre, and after more than twelve years of reading them every day I am convinced that a good picture book is well worth reading again and again. Sitting down on the squishy old couch with assorted children and a stack of illustrated stories is one of my daily delights.

I very intentionally keep a broad range of literature available in my home. In the hour before bed we might read a biography about a saint, a legend about an oak tree, and a folk tale about a talking rabbit. But when I started mulling the titles I wanted to share with you, I realized that they were all very much alike. So I asked the children to jog my memory: what stories did they most love this year?

Without prompting, their answers were all the same as mine.

There are no saints, no trees, no talking rabbits. Every one depicts a child, in all the sweetness of youth, offering and responding to goodness. Their challenges range from broken eggs to world war, but they reach out in hope and trust and do something wondrously kind.

This might just be my own family’s response to a challenging year, and I would normally prefer to give you a more balanced list. Yet in the spirit of honesty, these are the picture books that I think are most worth sharing with your little ones. They are all strikingly beautiful, in both intent and execution.

Down the Road

A girl longs to be a real help to her parents, and is entrusted with the grown-up task of walking to the store to buy a basket full of eggs. When her mission runs aground and she seeks to hide her shame in the branches of an apple tree, she finds instead love and understanding in the embrace of her parents. You can find my full review here.

Blueberries for the Queen

When a real queen is forced to flee her homeland and moves in down the road, an enraptured young boy dreams of winning the war and returning her to her kingdom. Eager to serve her but disappointed in his own helpless youth, he settles on another – perfectly delightful – way to help. Based on a true story, this book is sadly out of print, but well worth picking up used.

Boxes for Katje

A girl in war-torn Holland is surprised to receive an aid box from a girl in America. As they develop a long-distance friendship, they discover the power of generosity in both of their communities, and set about rebuilding a more beautiful world. Please see my full review here.

Tucky Jo and Little Heart

A young soldier fighting in the Philippines finds beauty in the horror when he takes a little girl under his wing. His heroic actions save her village, but the war takes her away from him… until one day she finds him and returns his kindness. A true story lovingly recorded by the queen of all storytelling: Patricia Polacco.

I hope you may find some goodness in these books, or in whatever kinds of stories have soothed your soul in these troubled times. You can find many more picture books by searching the tags here on the blog, plus lots of suggestions and a glimpse of my ethos from my interview with Word on Fire. (Cue the talking rabbits.)