I was looking at some new picture books recently, and there were two very cute books in the pile featuring cats. It got me thinking about a conversation I had a while ago with a fellow librarian who is a cat lover. She was expressing her disappointment because she felt that cats were underrepresented in children’s picture books. Books featuring dogs seem plentiful, but books with cats are a little harder to find. I don’t know what this means: do people in general really prefer dogs over cats, or is it just children’s book authors and publishers who seem to favor dogs?
I certainly do not want to get in the middle of the perennial cats vs. dogs debate, but I do want to let cat lovers know: do not despair! There is a wide variety of delightful picture books featuring cats, and I have pulled together a list of some of my favorites. Some are funny; some are sweet; some have outstanding illustrations; and all feature cats. As I thought about this topic, it got me thinking that because there is a day for everything, surely there must a National Cat Day, and there is! Feline fans, celebrate your cuddly companions any day, but on October 29, National Cat Day, I suggest you make a special point of grabbing one of these books about cats and inviting a child to enjoy a story with you.
Now that I have a young child, I’ve become more aware of how short her attention span is. I know that I can have one, maybe two short books in a row before her attention wanders away, and she wants to do something else (which also explains why we love songs and playing so much in our Grow a Reader classes). Since making this discovery, I’ve been on the hunt for some books that are short and colorful that she’ll enjoy and ones I’m enthusiastic about reading to her. So, I’ve gathered together a list of shorter picture books that make her giggle, coo, and generally pay attention.
Look, not everyone can be a great artist, okay? The narrator of Stick Dog certainly isn’t, and he’s sick of hearing about it. So he’ll make you a deal. You don’t comment on the art, and in exchange you’ll get story about five rectangular canine friends on a quest for the Holy Grail of picnic foods: hamburgers.
Stick Dog—accompanied by his friends Mutt, Stripes, Poo-Poo, and Karen—is determined to get some of the delicious-smelling hamburgers being grilled in the park away from the picnickers and into empty doggy stomachs.
His name is Floyd Peterson.
Although he has horns, wild eyes, clompy feet, long toenails, crazy hair, and fangs...that doesn't mean he's a monster.
Floyd does have a huge, toothy grin that glows in the dark. He sleeps in closets and behind shower curtains...he howls at the moon—and the sun. But that doesn't mean he's meat-snacking a monster!
Disregard the terrifying GROWWLS and the ROAAARRS—because Floyd Peterson is not a monster!
“In this book
you will discover
1 colorful tree
2 scurrying squirrels
and 15 blended words
created to celebrate
the wonder of fall!”
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn, by Kenard Pak, is a gentle read-aloud that follows a girl walking through the forests and fields and town of a changing world.
“Hello! You can hear my low rumble from far away.
My clouds loom over the open fields and quiet hills.”
On a beautiful day in autumn, a mother and daughter go apple picking and learn all about making delicious apple cider.
Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Fuji apples—you name it, the Cider Mill Farm has it! After picking, they move toward the mill, where scarecrows and pumpkins lead the way. Clean the apples (and don't forget to check for worms!), then watch as every apple does its part. Twist and press and squish and mash those apples to make apple mush!—then see the cider splish and splash.
In Aliki’s Quiet in the Garden, a young boy settles down in what he thinks is a quiet garden—and yet, when he is quiet, too, and listens, he hears the animals all around him. He sees what they are doing, from the robin to the fish to the worm to the rabbit.
In their company, he experiences the simple joys of the natural world. With pleasant repetition cumulating in a feast for all, the garden may not be exactly quiet, but it is a most amazing, nurturing place.
Rich, beautiful drawings from Christopher Raschka invite young children into a vividly natural world in Simple Gifts: A Shaker Hymn.
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Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin & James Dean
As he walks down the street, Pete the cat sings about his brand new white shoes as they change from red to blue to brown to wet. (catalog summary)
Here are a few more in the Pete the Cat series:
If you enjoy the Pete the Cat series, then you might like these other whimsical & clever picture book titles:
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
When Duncan arrives at school one morning, he finds a stack of letters, one from each of his crayons, complaining about how he uses them. (catalog summary)