Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt. This is one of the most oft-recommended resources for parents who are looking HOW to choose the best picture books for children... and for good reason. It was one of my first books specifically about picture books that I ever read and includes detailed lists.
Making Handmade Books by Alisa Golden. A highly inspirational book to savor. This is one that is fun to let sitting about for middle-aged children to find and be encouraged in. This discusses all that you need to know in creating your own beautiful masterpieces. Could be an excellent source for gift-making. Writers aren't just published people!
The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. This is an absolute must-read for all parents in my opinion. It discusses WHY reading aloud is so very important in families and classrooms, examines some pretty startling statistics about what that can do for a child and will completely convict parents to NOT overlook reading aloud to even older children. I like many of the books in Trelease's extended booklist... but don't agree 100% about all his recommendations for quality literature. So get this book for the informational content, not for the lists in the back!
A Picture Perfect Childhood by Cay Gibson. Now this is a book with which I CAN agree 100% on the lists included! And they are sorted in many useful ways, from great picture books for months of the year, countries of the world, virtues to teach, etc. All this plus many great notes on the goodness and importance of picture books in general make this a must have for Biblio-Zealots.
How Picture Books Work by Maria Nikolajeva and Carole Scott. I admit that most of you will want nothing to do with this book. It must of been written for a college course I think because it is pretty technical, thick reading. On picture books of all things! Still, I found it fascinating to explore different concepts of what makes some picture books successfull classics and not others. All the details about the relationship between writer and illustrator and publisher, text to picture placement, font choice... etc. There is so much going on in great picture books that the average reader doesn't usually perceive. I would liken it to a book on cinematography... what makes a movie brilliant is the coherence of scripting, acting, camerawork, soundtrack, and on and on. The trick for successful artists and writers is to make it look simple and beautiful and enjoyable. This book is interesting for nerds like me to pore over.
A Landscape With Dragons by Michael O'Brien. This was the first "book about books" I ever read a good 10 years ago or so. It was really great that I found it before I really started my children's library. O'Brien is known for his position on the importance of how Evil and Good need to be treated in literature, movies and pop-culture: everything in its proper place. When deciding on whether a story is good for children, one has to examine how things like magic and dragons and witches are treated. I love the booklists in the back of this book but many of the titles are out-of-print and hard to find. Still, it's a good place to start when trying to define what kinds of things you'll allow your children to be entertained by.
For the Love of Literature by Maureen Wittman. This is an incredibly useful book and I reference it often as I'm choosing books to supplement our schooling subjects. In all subjects (even math!) , there are great books for children of all ages to learn with and while I can and do make use of online resources that include much of this same information, Wittman's book is a staple on my shelf for how it's organized and for being... well... printed! I hate having to run to the computer every time I want an idea or resource, so this helps remedy that!
Minders of Make Believe by Leonard Marcus. I found this book fascinating also... it's really a history of where we've come as a culture in the development and publication of children's books. I have learned a LOT by reading this and find it really interesting how many things and authors and ideas we take for granted without knowing from whence they came. Highly recommended for lovers of both children's literature and lovers of history.
Who Reads What When by Jane Williams. Really this compact little book is probably my favorite for a very straightforward and trustworthy resource on booklists. You can look up ages to start authors or series... or simply read the titles for each age listed. Its great appeal is in its simplicity and I enjoy having this on my shelf!